Two Vietnamese drown while trying to enter Taiwan illegally

Group of five were in a dinghy about 20 metres from shore when it capsized, throwing them into the sea, coastguard says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 2:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 March, 2018, 2:41pm

Two Vietnamese drowned while attempting to enter Taiwan illegally along with three others, the island’s coastguard said on Monday.

The Coast Guard Administration said its radar system picked up a small object moving quickly off the coast of Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, at 2.17am and dispatched a patrol team to investigate.

The object turned out to be a speedboat that transported the five Vietnamese – three women and two men – close to the coast and then transferred them to a rubber dinghy, according to local media.

The dinghy reportedly capsized about 20 metres from shore, throwing all its occupants into the sea.

Two of the Vietnamese drowned, while the three others were arrested on land, along with two Taiwanese men, according to the coastguard.

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Li Chih-hao, a coastguard officer, said the two Vietnamese – one man and one woman – died, despite being pulled from the water by a patrol boat and rushed to hospital.

Four other occupants of the dinghy – two Vietnamese women, a Vietnamese man and a Taiwanese man – were also thrown into the water, Li said, adding that they made it to land where they were arrested by coastguard officers.

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The incident follows a case where a pregnant Vietnamese worker was repatriated after turning herself in to the New Taipei City police.

The 25-year-old woman, identified only by the surname Nguyen, went to a police station in the Tamsui precinct and asked for assistance to return to her country, the Central News Agency reported.

Police officer Chen Pao-jen said Nguyen had abandoned her job and her passport was still in the possession of her employer, and she was three months’ pregnant.

Nguyen had been hiding in different places and earning very little money, which often gave rise to suicidal thoughts, according to Chen. He said the woman told the police that she was seeking their help to return to her fiancé in Vietnam and have her baby there.

Chen said the police turned over Nguyen to the immigration agency, which took charge of the matter and arranged her return to Vietnam.