Stranded fishing crew postpone return home from Somalia

Stranded fishing crew postpone return home from Somalia

Relatives speak with stranded fishing crew member Kananat Wapeetao, calling from from Somalia, at his parents' home in Buri Ram province. (Photo by Surachai Piraksa)
Relatives speak with stranded fishing crew member Kananat Wapeetao, calling from from Somalia, at his parents' home in Buri Ram province. (Photo by Surachai Piraksa)

Fourteen Thai fishing crew members stranded in Somalia have postponed their return to Thailand and will await the arrival of four colleagues who shared the same plight.

Nita Chartphet, mother of one of the stranded crewmen, said at her house in Lahan Sai district, Buri Ram, on Friday that men had cancelled the booking for their return flight.

They wanted to return home together "their four friends" who had also been abandoned with little food and water aboard a fishing boat off Somalia.

The four men were said to be still aboard the fishing boat Wadani 1, awaiting processing of their documents.

Mrs Nita said her 28-year-old son Kananat Wapeetao told her of the delay in a video call. He said it was the collective decision of all 14 workers.

She also said her son and the other crewmen did not intend to work abroad illegally, bypassing the legal process of the Employment Department. Their employer had told them he would arrange their trip with authorities on their behalf, she said.

Labour officials confirmed the flight booked earlier had been cancelled. Reservations were made on another flight for their arrival home on Monday.

The plight of the crew surfaced when one contacted the Thai embassy in Kenya on Aug 1, saying  that   Thai crewmen on the trawler Wadani 1 had not been paid for months and were running out of fuel, food and fresh water. One of them also made a video call  to a friend in Phuket, explaining their problem.

The crew members are from Buri Ram, Phetchabun and Surin provinces. Only six had informed the Employment Department of the work trip.


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