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Mekong tourist ferries resume after murder trial

(Xinhua)

09:16, October 18, 2012

KUNMING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- A tourist ferry's Wednesday departure from southwest China for Thailand marked the resumption of such services on the Mekong River after a suspension following the murder of 13 Chinese sailors on the waterway late last year.

Setting off from the port of Jinghong in Yunnan Province, the ferry had 21 Britons and two South Africans on board.

The voyage comes less than a month after a Myanmar drug runner and five of his gang members stood trial for the sailors' murders in October. Naw Kham, the principal suspect, pleaded guilty to murder in a local court in Yunnan. The verdict has yet to be announced.

Tian Wenqian, a border official in Yunnan, said there is renewed confidence concerning Mekong tourist travel. Three other tourist trips are scheduled in November, departing from Jinghong for Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, he added.

With a length of almost 5,000 km, the Mekong is one of the most important waterways in Southeast Asia, linking China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It plays a crucial economic role among the Greater Mekong Sub-region countries.

Cargo ferries, though briefly disrupted following the murder, resumed services on the river in December.
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