Five Sri Lankan crew of vessel MT Malakas, Panama flag, who were stranded in the high seas and at Kochi Port for nearly 20 months flew back home on Thursday after they received their salary arrears with interest on an order from the First Class Judicial Magistrate, Kochi.

The crew received total salary arrears of US$ 1,12,277 up to February 2 this year and US$6,849 towards salary for the period between March and April 5, said Thomas Sebastian, International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Inspector in Kochi and vice-president of Cochin Port Staff Association here on Thursday.

The wages for the stranded crew were calculated based on the minimum wages scale of International Labour Organization.

The vessel was on its way to Iran from Sri Lanka when both its engines failed on August 8, 2008.

SOS message

It was adrift when the crew sent a SOS message.

Though another tug waited in the high seas for five days to tow the troubled vessel to the nearest port, the owner of MT Malakas did not agree, said a statement issued by Mr. Sebastian.

The owner later made arrangements for the vessel to be towed to Kochi Port as it had reached the outer channel of the Port. It berthed here on August 16, 2008.

More In: Kochi