Toll-free helpline for seafarers

India first in South Asia to be linked to service

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: A round-the-clock toll free helpline, 1600-425-4357, has been set up for the benefit of seafarers and their families.

It has been established by the International Seafarers Assistance Network (ISAN), a London-based charity organisation, and Waves, a free newsletter published from Chennai. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited is providing technical support for the service.

According to V. Manoj Joy, editor of Waves, the helpline would serve as a channel for communication between the seafarers, including those coming to India, and their family members. India was the first country in South Asia to be linked to the service. More countries were expected to follow suit. ISAN would reimburse the cost of the calls to BSNL.

A release issued by Waves quoted Mike Campling, Director of ISAN, as saying that calls received by the helpline included those from wives trying to locate their husbands and from persons stranded in a foreign country trying to find out about the nearest seafarer centre.

"It doesn't really matter what the call is about; the point is that we are here to help with whatever the seafarer needs. If we do not have the answer immediately, we will take the seafarers' number and call them back or ask them to call back at a specified time."

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