Twenty Vietnamese sailors are starving and suffering from sicknesses after they were detained by Bangladeshi authorities in September, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported Wednesday.
Captain Nguyen Van Dung and his crew arrived in Bangladesh on September 16, transporting 5,800 tons of rice from Saigon Seaport in Ho Chi Minh City.
However, they could not unload the goods until October 16, Dung told the newspaper on the phone.
Dung said the staff of the Chittagong seaport then ordered them to move to an area earmarked for ships with violations and they have been kept there since without access to proper food and water.
Some of them have fallen sick, but don't have any medicines, Dung said, adding that they weren't allowed to get enter Bangladesh.
Dung said that after following their detention he had contacted the ship's owner, Quang Truong Company in the northern city of Hai Phong, asking for food, water and oil to run power generators, but they have not received any help so far.
Meanwhile, a service company in HCMC which provided most of the crew did not respond when they asked for help to go home, he said.
Dung said they also asked for help from Quang Truong's agent that received the goods in Bangladesh as well as Vietnamese diplomatic agencies.
The agent then provided the crew with some food and water, but it wasn't enough, and they have not seen any action from the embassy since they sent a letter asking for help on November 10, Dung said.
Nguyen Van That, Vietnam's ambassador in Bangladesh, was quoted by Tuoi Tre as saying that the Hong Son couldn't leave the seaport because its license and insurance documents have expired.
According to the news source, Quang Truong owes the HCMC-based service company a large sum of money, so the latter has kept its documents and refused to process them for the ship to exit Bangladesh.
The crew, meanwhile, aren't allowed to go ashore because they don't have visas, That said, stressing that they have not been arrested.
Quang Truong's agent in Bangladesh has provided the crew with 180 tons of diesel and 100 tons of water and food, which should be enough for them for a couple of months.
However, they didn't have money for daily expenses, because the company hadn't paid them yet, That said.
The ambassador said he has called the Quang Truong Company many times, but director Nguyen Ngoc Thuong does not pick up the phone if he sees the incoming call is from Bangladesh.
Thuong only answered the phone when a relative of That in Hanoi called him, but then he left all the talking to a man named Hai.
Hai said Quang Truong has asked a company in Myanmar to handle the case, and didn't answer a question about the ship's fate, Tuoi Tre reported.
In the meantime, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they have been informed about the case and are looking into ways of resolving it.