Search for missing sailors underway: FM spokesman

Updated: 2011-10-10 21:10


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BEIJING - Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin confirmed on Monday that 11 Chinese were killed and two remain missing after their cargo ships were hijacked and attacked in the Mekong River on October 5.

Liu told a regular press briefing that two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and the Yu Xing 8, were hijacked and attacked by a group of unidentified armed men who escaped after the ships were intercepted by the Thai side.

Liu said the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council are paying close attention to the matter. The ministry has asked the Chinese embassy in Thailand and the consulate general in Chiang Mai to urge the Thai side to investigate the incident immediately, spare no efforts to search for the missing, properly handle the aftermath of the incident.

The ministry has also asked the governments of relevant countries to  take effective measures to protect Chinese ships and crewmen on the Mekong River, Liu said.

China's consul-general in Chiang Mai has arrived at the site of the attack to investigate. The Chinese embassy in Thailand is keeping close contact with relevant authorities of Thailand to make further verification of the incident, Liu said.

According to Liu, relevant departments in Yunnan province have dispatched a working group to the area to assist deal with the aftermath. They are also working through the Mekong River four-country joint commission mechanism involving China, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand to search for the two missing Chinese.

Liu said Yunnan province has suspended operation of Chinese passenger and cargo ships on the Mekong River. The Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Transport are also paying close attention to the matter, he said.

Thai police have collected on-site evidence from both ships and are investigating the incident at the request of China. With the assistance of the Thai side, the bodies of the 11 dead have been recovered, Liu said.

The Foreign Ministry, relevant departments and regions will pay close attention to the investigation, urging relevant countries to immediately look into the incident, determine the truth and bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible in order to safeguard navigation safety on the river, Liu said.