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VIDEO: Stranded crew thank South Tynesiders

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CREW members on the stranded Donald Duckling have thanked South Tynesiders for helping them get through an emotional festive period away from their families.

Since the vessel was detained at the Port of Tyne more than 10 weeks ago, the local seafaring community has rallied to their aid.

That support, through donations of food and clothes, has been a lifeline for the men in their hour of need.

The majority of the crew come from the Philippines and their plight coincided with the devastating typhoon that wreaked havoc there.

The men have relied on internet and telephone services, provided at the Mission to Seafarers in South Shields, to keep them in touch with their families.

But now they are desperate to get home to their loved ones.

Crew member Joe Fetalco, 40, was particularly grateful for the help he received.

His wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter, in October, and he has been able to stay in touch with unfolding events in his homeland.

He said: “There are 36 of my wife’s family back in Manila. It has been a very difficult time. Diane and everyone here at the Flying Angel has been a great help.

“I need to get home to make money to support my family.”

After a phone call from the Mission to Seafarers, the bishop of Manila has supplied Mr Fetalco’s extended family with 75 bottles of mineral water and 30 boxes of noodles.

Mark Angel, 24, who also comes from Manila, said it was difficult being away from his family over Christmas. He said: “It’s sad being so far from my family.

“All my family in Manila are OK. I am single, but I have a girlfriend and she has been worried over what is going to happen to me.

“At least we had a party on the ship at Christmas and drank some beer.”

Romel Maximo, 37, another Manila native, added: “It’s lonely being so far from home, and I miss my wife and parents.

“I want to go home as soon as I can, hopefully before the end of this month. I am grateful for all the help we have received. People have been very nice.”

Father-of-three Celso Precilla, 46, said: “I enjoyed Christmas here, but it’s not the same as being with your family.”

The crew has been in dispute over non-payments of wages from their company.

In December, they eventually received their wages for October and November – but have still not been paid outstanding overtime payments for those months.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

 

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