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Taiwan identifies 7 dead bodies found off coast as Vietnamese

Authorities investigate allegations of human trafficking

Rescue services found a body in the ocean off Qigu in Tainan City.

Rescue services found a body in the ocean off Qigu in Tainan City. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Out of 16 people found dead in the seas off Taiwan, seven have been identified as Vietnamese citizens who probably fell victim to human smugglers, reports said Thursday (March 30).

From Feb. 18 until Wednesday (March 29), police and coast guard have found 20 bodies floating in the ocean close to Taiwan, the Liberty Times reported. While four had still not been identified, of the 16 others, nine turned out to be Taiwanese nationals whose death was the result of either accident or suicide, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB).

The seven remaining bodies were identified as Vietnamese based on a list submitted by the Southeast Asian country’s office in Taiwan. Their relatives in Vietnam also provided information that helped with their identification.

The group of 14 was reportedly planning to enter Taiwan illegally in mid-February, but while seven had died, no information is yet available about the fate of the seven others, according to the CIB. The search will continue, while the authorities also try to locate the ship, crews, and owners suspected of involvement in human trafficking.