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Report Pirates Massacred 56 Vietnamese Boat People

April 4, 1989

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ One of two known survivors of a massacre of Vietnamese boat people by pirates in the South China Sea said the men were killed and the women and girls abducted.

The report carried Monday by the Bernama news agency quoted 14-year-old Doa Hoa as saying 58 people were aboard the craft seeking refuge in Malaysia when the pirates attacked March 25.

He said 35 people, most of them men and boys, were killed and their bodies dumped overboard, and the pirates forced the remaining women and girls aboard their boat.

Bernama reported the other survivor was a 33-year-old man who hid in the engine compartment. He was not identified.

The U.N. Office of High Commissioner for Refugees said it sent a report of the massacre to the regional anti-piracy center in Songkhla, Southern Thailand.

Jean-Marie Fakhouri, the UNHCR’s deputy representative here, said law enforcement agencies would try to find the pirates and take action.

Bernama reported Doa Hoa was being treated at a hospital in Kuala Trengganu, 210 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur, for face and head wounds.

The national news agency reported Doa Hoa gave this account:

On the third day of the journey six pirates attacked and ″stabbed and battered many of the men and boys before throwing them into the sea. The others, mostly girls and women, had their hands tied and were herded into the pirates’ boat.″

He was thrown into the sea but managed to swim back to the boat after the pirates had gone.

The boat drifted near an oil rig, and a vessel delivering supplies to the rig spotted the boat and rescued Doa Hoa and the other survivor. They were given medical treatment at another oil platorm and then flown to Kuala Trengganu.

Some of the victims were Doa Hoa’s relatives, also seeking refuge in the West, but his parents were not aboard. His parents, who work at a banana plantation near Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, has asked the relatives to care for the boy.

Fakhouri said 55 cases of piracy against boat people from Vietnam were reported in 1988, and 13 have been reported in the first two months of this year.

He said that in the 68 attacks, 388 people disappeared and were presumed dead.

Fakhouri also said 2,802 boat people landed in Malaysia in March compared to 1,759 in February.

About 16,500 Vietnamese refugees are in Malaysia now, down from a peak of 76,500 in June 1979.

Update hourly