Vietnamese on Houthi-struck bulk carrier to be repatriated next week

By Le Tan   March 9, 2024 | 08:00 pm PT
Vietnamese on Houthi-struck bulk carrier to be repatriated next week
Pham Van Thanh, a survivor on the True Confidence, phones his family back home in Hai Phong, March 9, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
The Vietnamese crew members on the True Confidence, which was hit by a deadly missile strike from Houthi forces in Yemen, are expected to return to Vietnam on March 13.

Pham Van Thanh, 36, on Saturday made a phone call to his family in Hai Phong, saying he has worked with the Vietnamese Embassy in Egypt and completed procedures to return to Vietnam on March 13.

Besides Thanh, there were three other Vietnamese on board the True Confidence: Dang Duy Kien, 41; Nguyen Van Tao, 36; and Phung Van An, 33. Kien was killed following the missile strike by Houthi forces at the Gulf of Aden.

"Kien was severely burned, and held out for an hour before dying," Thanh said. The surviving Vietnamese crew members, along with Kien's body, had been brought to a port city in Djibouti. However, all their personal documents have been lost.

With the help of the embassy and other relevant authorities, the crew members received new passports on Sunday, before flying back to Vietnam on March 13. Relevant parties are processing procedures for Kien's body to be returned to his family.

Thanh has spent over 10 years seafaring on the Southeast Asian route. In the past three years, he has been working at the Hai Phong Marine Services and Trading Investment Company, which recruits crew members for foreign vessels. Each trip at sea lasts 4-6 months, so his wife, Pham Thi Mai, takes care of their two children, aged 12 and 8.

"During his trip, Thanh showed me the video of the ship being reinforced with barbed wire as it crossed the Red Sea. I saw that there were armed guards on the ship, so I was assured. But I never expected a missile strike," said Mai, who also gave her condolences to Kien's family.

The True Confidence, which was Barbados-flagged and Liberian-owned, was over 90 km from the Aden port when the missile hit at around 5:20 p.m. on March 6. There were 20 crew members on the ship: four Vietnamese, 15 Filipino and an Indian. There were also three armed guards on the vessel: two Sri Lankans and a Nepali.

It was the first fatal incident ever since Houthi began escalating attacks on international shipping on the Red Sea to force Israel to stop its campaigns on Hamas amid conflict in the Middle East. Houthi forces confirmed the attack.

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