A Thai worker and four Vietnamese colleagues were found dead from suspected gas asphyxiation at a Thai-owned seafood processing factory in the south-central province of Phu Yen on Thursday.
Colonel Nguyen Trung Nghia, deputy director of the provincial Department of Police, confirmed on Thursday evening that five people were found dead at the Foodtech JSC processing facility in Phu Yen earlier that day.
Foodtech is a 100 percent Thai-owned company which specializes in processing and preserving seafood and related products.
The victims included Siriphong Phiuphu Khieo, 47, a Thai national, Nguyen Van Vinh, 50, Ho Viet Nguyen, 36, Le Thanh, 30, and Huynh Van Ne, 22, all of whom were employed by the factory.
Post-mortem examinations were completed the same day and the Vietnamese victim’s bodies have been returned to the families. The body of the Thai victim is being stored at the Phu Yen General Hospital until family members from Thailand arrive to claim the body.
According to Vo Ngoc Hoa, chairman of the People’s Committee in Dong Hoa District where the firm is located, the incident occurred around 11:00 am in the facility’s underground basement where steamed fish water is stored for the production of fish sauce.
“The liquid material had been treated and smelt similar to fish sauce,” Hoa said.
After one of the victims failed to return after entering the basement to collect samples of the steamed fish water, the four others went to assist him and lost their lives in the process, said Le Van Thanh, head of the Phu Yen Economic Zone Management Committee, adding that evidence suggests gas asphyxiation as the cause of death.
According to Nguyen Huu Chinh, Vinh’s older brother, arrived at the scene immediately after hearing the news, but was too late to provide assistance.
Other factories workers were hesitant to help, fearing they themselves would suffer the same fate.
They later removed several steel sheets above the basement to clear the air and rescue the victims, all of whom had already died, Chinh recounted.
The company, its labor union, and the provincial Labor Confederation have compensated each victim’s family with a total of VND46 million (US$2,043).