DROWNED WOMENS NEXT OF KIN ARRIVE IN TAIWAN


2003-09-17
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Family members of four Chinese women who drowned off Taiwan after being pushed overboard by suspected alien-smugglers have arrived in Taiwan to identify the bodies, RFA Reports.

After their airplane landed in Taiwan late Tuesday, one of the victims' fathers, Xu Chaoxuan, kneeled in front of reporters, pleading: "I beg you to get my daughter justice. She was only 20," he said.

He later added that he did not know that his daughter, Xu Ying, was heading to Taiwan, saying, "She never said that she was coming here. Just a quick phone call on Aug. 23 to say she was looking for a job. Then I heard nothing from her. I had no idea she would end up here," he said before collapsing.

On Aug. 26, four women died after two suspected alien-smugglers pushed them and 16 others overboard as the Taiwan Coast Guard approched their ship. The ship was illegally ferrying 26 women from China's Fujian Province to Taiwan at around 4 a.m. near Tunghsiao on Taiwan's west coast.

Four women drowned, 12 were rescued, and four swam ashore.

"When the police approached, [the smugglers] said we should leave their ship," one survivor said in an interview. "Then they started pulling our hair and kicked us off the ship. Some of the girls yelled "We don't know how to swim!' but they were thrown overboard and sank immediately."

According to the Associated Press, Coast Guard official Yun-huang told state radio that the Coast Guard later arrested four Taiwanese men at Penghu Island, west of Taiwan, in connection with the incident. One of the men had been detained briefly two weeks earlier for smuggling Chinese women to Taiwan, Huang was quoted as saying.

All seven family members have made arrangements to see their deceased daughters or sisters during their stay in Taiwan.

The Taiwan government is still debating whether the families should receive compensation.

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