Kochi Jan 13 (Agencies): Thousands of passengers have been stranded in the Union territory and the mainland with the shipping services from Lakshadweep to Kochi, Kozhikode and Mangalore ports coming to a halt.

The Lakshadweep Development Corporation operates 24 ships and barges, including some passenger vessels, MV Bharat Seema, MV Kavaratti, MV Minicoy, MV Lakshadweep, MV Amindivi and MV Arabian Sea. The inter island connectivity has also been affected.

The services came to a standstill after ship crew unions went on strike primarily demanding the termination of the services of the Marine superintendent for alleged dereliction of duty after the death of a crew due to cardiac arrest.

A helmsman of M V Bharatseema, Shameem Ali Yosuf, had died of cardiac arrest on friday last week, after the ship had anchored here. The relatives and crew complained that the Lakshadweep Development Council, which has Bharat Seema and at least 8 other passenger vessels under it, had not taken care of the deceased and failed to be present when the body was taken for post mortem.

Meanwhile, stranded passengers went on a dharna in front of the LDCL office here demanding subsistence allowance. Maritime Union of India leader Mohammed Haneef said the ship's operator had the responsibility to take the body of the crew home and carry out related formalities.

Though the Lakshadweep administrator, JK Dadoo held several rounds of discussions with the striking crew, a solution failed to materialise.