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Some of the crew on a Liberian-flagged ship arrested in Auckland haven't been paid for a year, the Maritime Union of New Zealand said yesterday.

The union has been helping the 23 crew on the Annapurna, which is anchored at Bledisloe Wharf.

The Annapurna was arrested on its arrival on Saturday on a warrant issued by the High Court after an application by Tokyo-based Aozora Bank, which has a mortgage over the ship, owned by New York company Eastwind Maritime, which has gone into bankruptcy.

The union's Auckland Seafarers Branch secretary, Garry Parsloe, said the union's primary concern was that the crew, who come from Myanmar, were paid their wages.

"They're in quite good health and are okay. But I almost collapsed when I was told there's a couple of them who haven't been paid in a year."

The crew, some of whom hadn't spoken to their families for months, were given telephones, as well as food and water.

Mr Parsloe, who represents the International Transport Workers Federation, said the ship's agent had given an undertaking that a payment would be made to crew members to help them in the meantime.

The agent had also said there was interest from buyers in the ship. Mr Parsloe added that representatives of creditors had indicated that the crew would be near the top of the list of those to be paid if a sale went through.

Mr Parsloe said the crew would either be repatriated with their wages or be re-employed by a new owner.

Meanwhile, the crews' explanation for the disappearance of a crew member between Chile and New Zealand was that the man went out during rough weather and was not seen again, he said. An inquiry by Auckland police concluded there was no suggestion of foul play in the disappearance.

- NZPA