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SUVA, Fiji (August 13, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Fifteen Kiribati crew members aboard the Fiji-owned vessel Katika were left stranded Monday when the ship was seized by the National Bank of Fiji (NBF).

An NBF officer told the Daily Post that the boat owner, Captain Sekove Cama, then informed the crew they had to fend for themselves and find their own food and shelter.

The Kiribati crew is believed to have hired the vessel to take relatives from Fiji to Kiribati. But the vessel experienced engine trouble near Rotuma, north-northwest of Fiji's main island of Viti Levu.

A Fiji naval vessel mounted a rescue mission and towed the Katika back to Suva. As soon as the vessel arrive in the Fijian capital, however, it was seized by the bank to cover debts owed.

A boat is expected to arrive shortly from Kiribati to take the stranded crew members home.

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