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The executive officer of the operator of the sunken Russian trawler in which at least 56 crew members perished is on the run, according to the Burmese embassy in Moscow. His deputy has reportedly been arrested, while the company’s assets have been frozen.
The embassy released a statement rejecting rumours that 22 Burmese survivors had been detained by the Russian government for violating immigration regulations, instead asserting that they are now being provided with accommodation at the Pacific Plaza Hotel in Yuzhro Sakhalinsk, south eastern Russia, where they say officials are also located at the hotel.
However, one of the survivors told DVB that they were being prevented from leaving the hotel as they had no passports and were under constant watch from the Russian police.
“It is difficult for us. We spent a lot of money [to get work on the trawler] and would like to speak to the officials what can be done about it – about whether we can be compensated. We also lost our documents in the disaster,” survivor Htet Ko Ko told DVB over the phone.
“I had only been working on the trawler for a couple months before it sank.”
He said the Burmese crew lost all of their belongings in the shipwreck, and the company had paid them only one month’s salary since they began work in December.
The Burmese embassy has said they are working to re-issue the survivors with passports lost in the disaster, and will negotiate with Russian authorities to get their pay and compensation.
Kyaw Kyaw, another Burmese crew member on the ship, resident of Mandalay division’s Taungtha, told DVB about the sinking.
“The trawler tipped over to one side, so all the crew lined up on the other side. Some immediately jumped onto lifeboats and some waited until the trawler began to sink,” said Kyaw Kyaw.
“I jumped too and landed in the water first, then climbed onto a life boat. Some of the crew made it and some died. I was just praying, chanting Buddhist mantras, but had nothing else in my mind.”
The Dalny Vostok sank with 132 crew members aboard on 1 April off the Kamchatka peninsula in the Sea of Okhotsk. Of the 42 Burmese on board, 22 survived while 16 bodies have been recovered. Four remain missing, presumed dead.