Update: 30 people rescued after boat sinks in Cambodia; search and rescue underway
Published: Sep 23, 2022 06:12 PM
File Photo:IC

File Photo:IC

A total of 30 Chinese nationals have been rescued as of Sunday afternoon after nine more were saved from the accident where a boat carrying Chinese nationals sunk off southwestern Cambodia's sea on Thursday evening, according to China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. The boat was carrying 41 Chinese citizens, the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia confirmed with the Global Times on Friday.

China and Cambodia are in close communication over the incident. "We have asked the Cambodian side to make all-out search and rescue efforts. We are doing everything we can to find out more details of the incident and verify them as quickly as we can," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Friday's press briefing.

Two Cambodian crew members involved in the incident have been arrested. According to the rescued personnel, the people on the boat departed from South China's Guangzhou on September 11 and ran into danger not long after arriving in the waters of Preah Sihanouk province in Cambodia, according to the embassy.

A fishing boat picked up the two Cambodians and left, abandoning the people on the boat, Cambodia China Times reported on Friday. One person died and another 19 people are missing, said the report.

An emergency working mechanism has been immediately initiated with a special working group. Ambassador Wang Wentian immediately deployed staff to contact the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense, the police department, the Sihanoukville provincial government and other relevant departments on rescue efforts. Li Jie, counselor and consul general of the embassy, also immediately rushed to Preah Sihanouk on Thursday night.

As of noon on Friday, one person who fell into the water was rescued and a victim's body has been found. In a bid to mobilize people to participate in the rescue work, the provincial government issued a reward notice to fishermen in nearby waters, offering $500 for every person rescued. The search and rescue operation is still going on.

The topic related to the incident received more than 72 million clicks as of press time on Sina Weibo, with many netizens sending their condolences to the victims and wishing them safety. "Hope they can come back safely," one netizen wrote.

A video going viral online showed that the capsized boat carrying some people sinking into the sea with some people shouting, according to Chinese media outlet Jiupai News. 

Some netizens questioned whether it was legal for the boat to carry so many Chinese citizens in Cambodia's sea. There have been reports that the Chinese people were being trafficked or smuggled into Cambodia. 

Cambodia rescued some 865 foreigners from human trafficking in 87 cases from January 1 to August 20, Xinhua reported in August. Most foreigners were deceived through social media to cross borders illegally into Cambodia, with the promise of high-paying jobs, said the report.

Global Times