Crew barred from landing
By GREG TORODE
SEAMEN aboard the suspected Serbian sanctions-busting ship impounded in Hongkong have been barred from leaving the vessel by the Immigration Department.
Government officials said the 23 seamen on board the bulk-carrier C Blanco had committed no crime under the impounding order, but they could not leave it as they did not have full visitor status.
The 17,191-tonne vessel became the first ship to be impounded in Hongkong under United Nations sanctions and is now moored off Stonecutters Island where it will stay indefinitely. ''This case is new to everyone, so we have to be careful,'' one immigration source said.
''In special circumstances, such as a medical emergency, they would be allowed ashore once they had our permission.'' The empty ship entered Hongkong on Tuesday from the Chinese port of Fang Cheng to refuel and change crew. Ten seamen were cleared to leave the territory for Budapest yesterday and were replaced by 11, including a new captain.
The Marine Department said enough crew must kept here to keep the vessel fully operational while in Hongkong in case of typhoons.
Montenegrin Captain Djuro Vukasovic said he would be contacting the ship's Maltese owners as soon as possible, requesting them to take action.
''This is just a innocent merchant with innocent sailors, they are treating us very badly, considering they told us only our ship was arrested, not us,'' he said after being held for eight hours at Kai Tak airport.