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Greek Seamen on Bulk Carrier "Angelic Power" Returning on Thursday

Αssociated Press

(AP Photo/Marcos Moreno, FILE)

ATHENS -- The Greek seamen trapped on the Greek-flagged freighter "Angelic Power" will be arriving in Greece on Thursday afternoon on an Air France flight, the Greek shipping and foreign ministries announced. They have remained on the ship for more than a year after it was forbidden to set sail from an anchorage off the coast of China by a naval court order, due to a dispute between the two shipping companies that manage the bulk carrier.

There were 22 people trapped on board the vessel, among them eight Greek seamen and a Greek technical inspector.

The return of six Greek crew members and the inspector to Greece on Thursday was arranged with Chinese authorities through the intervention of the foreign ministry and the Greek shipping ministry, according to a joint announcement, following many months of coordinated actions and initiatives by both ministries.

Two of the Greek sailors (the captain and chief mate) and the 13 Filipinos making up the remainder of the crew will remain on board. The shipping and island policy ministry, with the assistance of the Aggelikousis Group and the Onassis Foundation, also arranged to meet their immediate needs for fuel, food and drinking water.

The two ministries mobilised as soon as a Chinese court forbid the ship to set sail, to arrange for their return and ensure adequate living conditions for the crew, which remained on the ship for more than 15 months.

The company managing the vessel has been fined 500,000 euros by Greek authorities and a case against it has been filed with the Piraeus Misdemeanours Court public prosecution.

Efforts are continuing for the return of the remaining Greek and Filipino sailors.

Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on Thursday expressed satisfaction that the ordeal for most of the Greeks on board the vessel had come to an end, thanks to the seamless cooperation of the foreign ministry and shipping ministry.

Shipping and Island Policy Minister Yiannis Plakiotakis said it was a day of great joy for the seamen and their families and for the ministries involved in their return.