Taipei, Two Vietnamese drowned off eastern Taitung in the early hours of Monday while attempting to illegally enter the country, according to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA).
Li Chih-hao (???), a section chief in the CGA Eastern Coastal Patrol Office, said the two Vietnamese, one man and one woman, fell into the water when the rubber dinghy they were in capsized due to high waves as they approached the Taitung coast.
Li said the two died, despite being pulled from the water by a patrol boat and rushed to hospital.
Four other occupants of the dinghy, two Vietnamese women, a Vietnamese man and a Taiwanese man, were also thrown into the water, Li said, adding that they made it to land where they were arrested by coastguard officers.
The coastguard radar system picked up a speedboat heading toward Taitung at about 2 a.m. Monday and immediately dispatched a patrol team to investigate, according to Li.
According to local media reports, the five Vietnamese were attempting to enter Taiwan illegally to look for work.
The speedboat they boarded took them to a spot roughly two to three nautical miles from the Taitung coast, the reports said, where they were instructed to get into a rubber dinghy and row the rest of the way.
The dinghy capsized about 20 meters from land, throwing its occupants into the sea, as a result of which two died, Li said.
The four survivors were detained by the coastguard patrol and are being held at coastguard office in Taitung City, while an investigation is conducted into the incident and their effort to illegally enter Taiwan, Li added.
At present, the patrol office has yet to confirm whether the arrested Taiwanese man is suspected of being part of a people smuggling ring as has been speculated.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel