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Stranded Chinese sailors returning from Thailand after deadly attack

(Xinhua)

10:08, October 19, 2011

GUANLEI, Yunnan, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Altogether 96 Chinese sailors from 14 boats had returned home by Tuesday after being stranded in northern Thailand following a deadly cargo ship attack two weeks ago, Chinese authorities said.

Twelve Chinese sailors were confirmed dead and one missing after two cargo ships, the Hua Ping and Yu Xing 8, were attacked and hijacked by an unknown group of armed men on Oct. 5 on the Mekong River.

Out of safety concerns, 164 sailors had been living aboard 26 ships on the Mekong River in Chiang Saen in Thailand following the attack.

Under the escort of a Chinese police patrol ship, the first group of 11 cargo boats with 78 sailors left Chiang Saen for China last Friday morning and arrived at the Guanlei Port in the Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna in the southwestern province of Yunnan Sunday afternoon.

The other 12 ships and 68 sailors will return to China soon, the maritime affairs authorities of Xishuangbanna said Tuesday.

China has asked the governments of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to protect the sailors and ships, ensuring them a safe trip home, and demanded swift action from the three Southeastern Asian nations in preventing additional attacks on Chinese nationals on the Mekong River.

Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao had summoned diplomatic envoys from the three countries and urged the countries to intensify their investigations on the deadly attack.

The Mekong River, known in China as the Lancang River, rises on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before spilling into the South China Sea. It plays a crucial economic role throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

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