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Chinese patrol vessels head to Thailand to escort stranded sailors back

(Xinhua)

10:19, October 14, 2011

JINGHONG, Yunnan, Oct, 13 (Xinhua) -- A group of Chinese patrol vessels set out for Thailand along the Mekong River on Thursday to escort the stranded Chinese sailors and ships back home, said local authorities.

The patrol vessels, dispatched by the local public security bureau, left from Guanlei Port in southwest Yunnan province's Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture for Chiang Saen Port in Thailand, where 164 Chinese sailors as well as 28 cargo ships are currently stranded.

The two attacked vessels will remain in Thailand while the other 26 cargo ships will return to China via the Mekong River with the protection of China's patrol boats.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Wednesday at a press briefing that China is working with Thailand, Myanmar and Laos to ensure the safe return of Chinese ships and sailors stranded in Thailand.

The local maritime affairs department, customs and the quarantine department in Yunnan have made preparation for the return of the stranded personnel and cargo ships.

Twenty-nine family members of the 12 sailors who died after their ships were hijacked on the Mekong River on Oct. 5 have also left from Mohan Port on the China-Laos border Thursday.

After their arrival, a memorial service was scheduled at the scene where the attack occurred, said one of the family members.

The victims' families would identify the bodies in the local hospital.

The families of the deceased sailors from the Hua Ping ship will each receive 133,300 yuan (20,883.6 U.S. dollars) in compensation from China Continent Property & Casualty Insurance Company, while the families of the five insured victims on the Yu Xing 8 will each get 100,000 in compensation from the People's Insurance Co. of China.

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).

Twelve Chinese 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.

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