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7 Chinese crew of vessel lost at sea off Samar now free to go home

7 Chinese crew of vessel lost at sea off Samar now free to go home
Joey Gabieta - March 31, 2023

TACLOBAN CITY — The seven Chinese nationals on board a vessel that drifted in the waters off Eastern Samar on Jan. 26 could now return to their country.

On Friday, March 31, the foreigners were turned over by the Philippine Coast Guard to the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) though they were placed in handcuffs as part of the standard operating procedure.

Speaking through an interpreter, the seven Chinese said they were glad to see their families again.

“They miss their families. They are excited to see their families. They have been here for more than two months,” the interpreter, who asked not to be named, said.

Chinese nationals Chen Zhe Nei, He Cheng Sun, Tong Yat Sun, Lei Deng Zai, Mak Pak Lam, Liu Jian Ping, and Shi Nun Yu, have been inside the vessel for 64 days.

Except for Sun and Lam, who are from Hong Kong, all are from Guangdong, China.

Their vessel, Kai Da 899, was rescued by Coast Guard after it was reported to have drifted in the waters off Suluan Island, Guiuan town in Eastern Samar on Jan. 26 after its rudder encountered a problem.

The vessel, later described as a supply vessel, has since been docked four nautical miles from the port of Tacloban. It is now yet known if the boat will be towed out.

Coast Guard and BID personnel served as security to the foreigners who were described as “fugitives” by the Chinese embassy.

The Chinese embassy has requested that the seven be repatriated to China.

The rescued Chinese nationals sought the help of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to allow them to return to China, where the country has a recurrent territorial dispute over the Western Philippine Sea.