The Thai Navy has sent out planes and ships in the search for a missing Vietnamese fisherman whose boat they sunk last week while it was operating in Thai waters.
Vietnam’s Ambassador to Thailand Nguyen Tat Thanh told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper over the phone on Monday that planes and ships had been mobilized by the Thai Navy to search for a Vietnamese fisherman who had been missing since last Friday after a clash with Thailand’s naval force.
The Thai Navy reportedly chased after and opened fire on four Vietnamese fishing boats, one more than earlier reported, operating in the Gulf of Thailand , resulting in injuries to two fishermen and one still missing.
The missing sailor was the helmsman of one of the two sunken Vietnamese boats, while the remaining boats along with 15 other seamen were captured and escorted back to shore by the Thai force.
A delegation of Vietnam’s Embassy in Thailand arrived at the Police Headquarters of Songkhla Province in southern Thailand on Monday to protect the apprehended Vietnamese fishermen, according to the Embassy’s First Secretary Nguyen Hai Ngoc.
The two sunken boats were numbered BT 93024 TS and BT 98091 TS, while the two captured boats were BT 93023 TS and BT 93133 TS, all registered in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, Ngoc said.
Ngoc added that the two injured fishermen had been discharged from hospital after being treated for minor flesh wounds and were being kept at a prison in Songkhla Province.
Senior Colonel Alongkorn Seemavuth, chief of the investigative body of Songkhla Police, told Ngoc that the Vietnamese fishermen had infringed upon Thai waters and would be handled according to the country’s laws.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador of Thailand to Vietnam Manopochai Vongphakdi said in an interview with Tuoi Tre that he had not been given information on the case by Thai authorities, though the ambassador said such an incident could have been avoided.
The Consular Department under Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry had also voiced its objection to the use of violence against unarmed fishermen under any circumstance in a meeting with representatives from the Thai Embassy in Hanoi, the Ministry’s Vice Spokesperson Pham Thu Hang said on Tuesday.
Vietnam has also requested that Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs carry out investigations into the incident, Hang said.