A West German vessel which had been detained by the Vietnamese during a dispute over refugees in the South China Sea has returned to Singapore after being released.
A West German vessel which had been detained by the Vietnamese during a dispute over refugees in the South China Sea has returned to Singapore after being released. The oil-rig supply ship Alexanderturm had been trying to help refugees when it was fired on by Vietnamese vessels on June 29.
SYNOPSIS: The Alexanderturm was one of two West German oil support vessels involved in the incident which occurred when they apparently tried to evacuate 300 refugees from an oil rig off the Vietnamese coast. The band of refugees had already met with tragedy. A West German Embassy spokesman said their ship appeared seaworthy so they were at first refused permission to board the rig. He said that when they were eventually given permission to board, they rushed to one side of their boat, unbalancing it, and ninety of them drowned. The confrontation with the Vietnamese gunboats occurred when the Alexanderturm and another ship attempted to take the survivors from the rig.
During the attempt to load the refugees, Vietnamese vessels fired warning shots and escorted the Alexanderturm to the mainland. Now, although the ship has been released, the refugees are still detained in Vietnam. The Bonn government is pressing for their release.