23 Chinese nationals missing after boat capsized off Cambodian coast

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Only 18 of those on board have been rescued so far. (representative)

Cambodia:

More than 20 Chinese nationals are missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Cambodia, an official said Friday.

The boat carrying 41 Chinese ran into difficulties near Sihanoukville on Thursday, provincial spokesman Kheang Phearom told TAUT, and only 18 of those on board had been rescued.

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The once tranquil fishing village of Sihanoukville has been transformed in recent years by a Chinese investment boom, with dozens of casinos opening.

But there are growing reports of Chinese workers being trafficked or smuggled to work illegally in the city.

Kheang Phearom said police questioned those they rescued while the search for the others continued.

“We are looking for the 23 missing persons,” he said.

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Provincial police chief Chuon Narin told pro-government media outlet Fresh News that a representative of the group had told police they had left China by speedboat on Sept. 11 from a port in Guangdong province.

Nearly a week later, they were transferred to a wooden boat with two Cambodian crew members in international waters, the police chief said, and that ship began to sink after breaking down on Thursday.

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He said a fishing boat picked up the two Cambodians and left, leaving them and their boat in the sea.

According to Kheang Phearom, the two Cambodians were also detained for questioning.

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