Missing fishermen call home after China release

TN News

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Nine fishermen from the central province of Quang Ngai who were reported missing after being released by China on Monday have contacted their families, Vietnamnet quoted a local official as saying Saturday.


Captain Mai Phung Luu together with his crew and the boat are now on Tru Cau Island of the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago, Truong Thai My, vice chairman of An Hai Commune People's Committee, told the news website on the phone.


According to My, at around 11 a.m. Saturday Luu called his family, saying that they were safe at present.


The captain said after being released on Monday, the boat was damaged by a big wave on their way home and they drifted for more than five days, while all food and water ran out.


At 9 a.m. the same day, a Chinese boat found them and tugged them to the island, My quoted Luu as saying.


Luu then borrowed a telephone to call home, Vietnamnet reported, adding that the fishermen were repairing their boat to get back within the next one or two days.


Another news website, VnExpress, meanwhile, quoted Nguyen Hoa Binh, secretary of Quang Ngai's Committee of the Party, as saying that local authorities have proposed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assists them in sending rescue boats to the island.


It is expected that rescue boats would tug Luu's boat home this Tuesday, the news source said.


The fishermen were illegally detained by China on September 11 when they were fishing in Vietnamese waters off the coast of the Hoang Sa Archipelago.


China accused them of using explosives when shipping and asked for 70,000 yuan (US$10,461) in fines.


However, following Vietnam's demands that it free the fishermen and their boat unconditionally, China said it had released them.

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