Stranded for the past 18 days on the Italian cruise liner Costa Victoria, 153 Indian crew members, have released a video appealing the Indian government to rescue them off the coast of Italy. The Indians have been on board the ship since March 1, which had confirmed 1 COVID-19 case - six days ago. The ship has been docked 60 km off the Roman coast at Civitavecchia, ever since.
With folded hands, huddled in one of the quarters, the masked crew members requested, "Modiji, we are speaking from Costa Victoria. We are 200 crew members here. Our ship is caught in the middle of the ocean. As some passengers tested positive to Coronavirus, we have been kept in quarantine".
They added, "We are suffering and not able to communicate with our families. Food is being delivered to our cabins and we don't know where we are or where we are headed. Please do some arrangements to evacuate us Indians from this place. We are ready to be quarantined in India if needed. So please help us Modiji."
The video which was released by the group is 7 days ago. The group released yet another video on Monday stating that they cannot release another group video as they are quarantined. Assuring that they can speak to families via WhatsApp, one of the crew members said that the Philipines government has tested their nationals and is arranging for their return. He added that the crew's company has said that the Indian embassy has not responded to their pleas and requested PM Modi to rescue them.
Reports state that more than 200 Australians passengers onboard the ship have been told that they will be flown to Perth on Sunday if they do not test positive for Coronavirus. The Australian passengers onboard Costa Victoria and Costa Luminosa have been told that a Qatar flight will fly them off Rome. Passengers from both ships expressed their relief, but also anger at the situation they found themselves in.
India has flown out several stranded Indians from Wuhan, Iran, Italy etc and also facilitated the return of several foreign nationals stuck in India to their home countries. India has suspended all visas and barred travel from Afghanistan, Philippines, EU, UK, China, Malaysia and mandatory 14-day quarantine from several other countries. The Prime Minister has issued a 21-day countrywide lockdown starting from 25 March to April 15 and has banned all air travel - domestic and international to and from India. The country has seen 1071 cases till date with 29 deaths.