Vietnamese boat stuck in East Timor with expired license

TN News

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Vietnamese fishermen have sent out calls for help from East Timor where they have been stranded since late February due to an expired license, as their company lacks the funds to bring them back.

Hoang Tri Thai, the captain of 14 fishermen, said in a letter to Vietnam's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday they arrived at the port of Dili on January 22, but were not permitted to enter the port until February 13 as it was being occupied by a military vessel.

During that interim, their license expired. The rice loaded boat departed the Mekong Delta province of An Giang on January 1.

Thai said they have sought help from their company in the northern city of Hai Phong but have not yet received any support.

"We've been relying on our customers and the port authorities for one month now," Thai said.

In a letter to Vietnam's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday, the fishermen said they been out of food and water since February 27, one week after they finished loading at Dili port. They have been relying on donations and rain water.

But Le Thanh Tung, director of the fishermen's company An Thanh Phat 386, on Thursday said he has not abandoned the fishermen.

Tung said he has sent US$3,000 in two installments to the company's client to provide the fishermen with food and water.

"Our company is in trouble, so we are unable to bring the boat back to Vietnam," he said, cited by Tuoi Tre in a Friday report.

The company plans to declare bankruptcy and return the boat it hired from Agribank, which has the finances to deal with the problem.

The Foreign Ministry is also working with the Transport Ministry to find a solution.

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