23 Sri Lankan nationals strayed into Vietnam waters deported to Sri Lanka

A Vietnamese-flagged fishing vessel carrying 303 Sri Lankan nationals was reported to be in distress in Vietnam Seas on 07th November 2022. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) Colombo stationed at the Sri Lanka Navy Headquarters promptly coordinated the rescue of this group of people whom were temporarily settled in Vietnam upon rescuing. Among the rescued Sri Lankans, 151 were deported from Vietnam and they arrived at Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake on 28th December 2022. In the same vein, 23 more Sri Lankans whom were deported subsequently arrived in Katunayake on 19th April.

The Navy Headquarters on the morning of 07th November 2022 received the distress signal about the ill-fated Vietnamese-flagged fishing vessel (Lady R3), with 303 Sri Lankan nationals aboard. Responding promptly to the development, MRCC Colombo informed MRCC Singapore, MRCC Vietnam and MRCC Philippine for the rescue of people in distress at sea, within the control of those MRCCs.

Accordingly, MRCC Singapore and Vietnam in a coordinated Search and Rescue operation managed to rescue the group of Sri Lankans by deploying MV ‘HELIOS LEADER’. Upon being rescued they were taken away to Vietnam by an SAR vessel on 09th November and temporarily settled there.

As revealed, the group of Sri Lankans had faced this unfortunate turn of events in Vietnam Seas on 07th November. Reportedly, they have flown to Myanmar form Sri Lanka legally and was on an illegal migration attempt from there, with the help of international human smugglers.

Among the group deported on 19th April were 15 males and 06 females who are from 19 to 50 years of age and 02 individuals below 18 years. They have been identified as residents of Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Batticaloa. Relevant authorities including the Department of Immigration and Emigration will carry out the legal proceedings into the incident.

Meanwhile, MRCC Colombo established at the Navy Headquarters playing a crucial role being the central hub for coordinating and managing all aspects of the SAR effort, within its region and beyond with the support of similar stakeholders.