Southern fishermen missing after being starved

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Two fishermen are missing off the coast of Bac Lieu Province after being starved because they refused to work for an additional month, said Bac Lieu province coastguards.

Ngo Quoc Khanh from Soc Trang Province and Huynh Thanh Tam from Bac Lieu have not been seen since May 7 when the boat they were working on was 81 kilometers from Bai Can Islet in Ca Mau Province, said the other 14 fishermen when questioned.

Families of the missing were only informed of the incident on May 11. The coastguards were notified and started their investigation on May 12 when the boat returned to Ganh Hao port from where it had departed.

Crew members said they had found some buoys and cans in the water but there was no trace of the missing persons.


"The day [after the two went missing], captain Le Van Hoang said the two missing fishermen were already back on shore. But I didn't believe that they could get home in just one day," said Huynh Huu Nhien, Tam's younger brother and one of the four that went on strike.


According to the fishermen, they had agreed with boat owner Nguyen Van Goi to sail for two months starting March 1. But on May 2, they were supplied with more ice, oil, food and water and asked to work for an additional month.


The boat had already earned more than VND300 million (US$15,800) by then, investigators found.


Many fishermen did not want to work more.


Captain Hoang said he reported the situation to the mainland.


Nguyen Van Khuong, who managed the boat and son of the boat owner, refused to feed any person that went on strike.


Khanh, Tam, Nhien and another one Ngo Van Minh were left without food from May 3 to 7 when the missing fishermen escaped. They survived on uncooked instant noodles given to them by another fishing boat.


"Others threw their leftovers into the sea, and didn't give us anything. We weren't allowed to use the cooker," Minh recalled.


Authorities are still looking for the missing sailors.

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