TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Over 30 illegal Vietnamese immigrants reached the shores of southern Taiwan early Tuesday morning (Sept. 15), with 23 arrested on the spot and the rest still at large.
At 2 a.m. on Tuesday, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) received a report of a suspicious fishing vessel sailing 11.6 nautical miles (21.4 kilometers) off the coast of Kenting in Pingtung County, bound for Hou-pi-hu Fishing Harbor. When the boat was 3 nautical miles from shore, it suddenly changed course and headed for Dingbaisha.
The Hengchun branch of the CGA was notified, and it dispatched two patrol boats to investigate. When the Coast Guard boats arrived at the scene at 4 a.m. that morning, officers using thermal imaging cameras found that unidentified persons were jumping out of the boat.
Undocumented immigrants arrested in Pingtung County. (CGA photo)
When the boat was within 400 meters from the coast, individuals wearing life jackets jumped overboard and swam to the shoreline.
The officers discovered that some of the passengers were swimming to shore at Dingbaisha. The patrol boats soon closed in and arrested the Vietnamese citizens still onboard as well as five crew members (two Taiwanese and three Philippine nationals), including the captain.
By 12 p.m. on Tuesday, a total of 23 Vietnamese nationals had been arrested, including 11 men and 12 women, reported UDN. According to the CGA, the remainder of the more than 30 Vietnamese stowaways are still evading capture.
CGA apprehending an undocumented immigrant. (CGA photo)
The Coast Guard has set up a response center and mobilized land and sea search teams, sniffer dogs, UAVs, and aerial reconnaissance aircraft. It is currently coordinating with civilian vessels to search the areas of Baishawan, Shanhai, and Hongchaikeng for the remaining missing migrants.
CGA officers arresting another undocumented immigrant. (CGA photo)
Update: 09/16 4:30 p.m.
Five more Vietnamese stowaways were arrested in an abandoned bunker on the north side of Baisha Bay in Kenting, bringing the total number of persons captured from the incident to 33, including 18 males and 15 females, according to CNA. Police are currently searching for three more Vietnamese nationals from the ship believed to be at large.