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Indonesia seeks probe over death of 4 seamen on Chinese vessel

This Aug. 17, 2018 file photo shows Indonesian flags hoisted on a street in Jakarta. (Kyodo)

JAKARTA (Kyodo) -- The Indonesian government said Thursday it is seeking clarification and investigation from the Chinese and South Korean governments over the deaths of four Indonesian seamen working on a Chinese longliner.

    The request follows South Korean media reports quoting Indonesian crew members of Chinese-flagged Long Xing 629 tuna longliner as saying their crewmates were denied medical treatment and subjected to physical abuse.

    Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told a press conference that she spoke with Chinese Ambassador Xiao Qian and expressed her government's concerns "over the living conditions of the crew members on board that are...suspected to have caused the deaths of the four Indonesian crew members."

    Retno said the dead crew members were among 18 Indonesians working on Long Xing 629. Two of them died in December, one on March 30 and another one on April 27. Those who died in December and March were buried at sea.

    The four dead seamen had been reportedly sick for weeks while on board but the captain repeatedly refused to go to ports to access medical treatment.

    South Korean media reports quoted crew members as complaining they had to work 18 hours a day and were treated worse than Chinese crew members, while they were paid only a tenth of the $300 per month they were entitled to receive under their work contracts.

    Retno said the vessel's captain claimed their burials at sea were required to maintain the health of others because they died of infectious diseases and were done in compliance with the International Labor Organization's Seafarer's Service Regulations.

    The Indonesian government, however, has "asked for clarification and valid information (from the Chinese government) on whether the burials were done based on the ILO standards," she added.

    Retno said the government had requested the South Korean coast guard to investigate the case and asked the Chinese government's assistance to ask the vessel's company to pay full salaries of the crewmen including the unpaid salaries of those who died.

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