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Ministry seeking fishermen’s kin

Compensation is being sought for the families of five Cambodian fishermen who died of a still-unknown illness while at sea on Thai fishing vessels, officials said yesterday, while 15 of the 20 other Cambodian crew members who were hospitalised have fully recovered.

Chum Sounry, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said two of the victims have been cremated in Thailand at their families’ request, while “the Cambodian Embassy in Bangkok has endeavoured to find the relatives of the remaining three victims”.

“The embassy has contacted the boss of the five victims for compensation,” Sounry said, adding that they are still awaiting official autopsy results from the Ranong Provincial Hospital.

On December 27, two Cambodian crew members on Thai fishing trawlers fell ill and died. Before reaching harbour on January 14, three more succumbed to a similar illness, which doctors had initially attributed to Vitamin B deficiency, although crew members reportedly said the sickness struck the sailors after they had eaten a seabird.

“Only the hospital can confirm the [cause of the] deaths,” Sounry said. Lamatin Cheam, the counsellor in charge of Cambodian labour at the embassy in Bangkok, said by phone yesterday that 15 of the hospitalised fishermen have recovered. “Five men are still in hospital but one of them is still not walking,” Cheam said.

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