Eighteen Thai fishermen rescued from reportedly slave-like conditions on a trawler in Somalia returned to Bangkok on Monday as labour officials considered opening a human trafficking probe.
The fishing crew arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport on Thai Airways flight TG581 from Dubai, where 14 of them had waited for another four workmates.
They will meet Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul later on Monday to thank him for the government’s help in rescuing them from harsh conditions on board the Wadani 1 off the Somalian coast.
Short of both food and fuel, one of the crew sought help from a friend in Phuket on a video call. The Thai embassy in Kenya, which is responsible for Somalia, finally secured their return.
The first group of 14 left Somalia for Dubai on Wednesday and were supposed to arrive in Bangkok the same day. But they later decided to stay in the Middle East city until they were joined by four coworkers from the same boat who had been delayed while their documents were processed.
The Labour Ministry said the crew members will each receive up to 30,000 baht in cash from a fund that helps Thai workers overseas. The money will be sent to their home provinces.
Most of the crew are from Buri Ram province. The rest are from Phetchabun and Surin.
The ministry said it will open an investigation to determine whether the fishermen’s plight was a case of human trafficking. Their recruiters would face legal action if they are considered human traffickers, the agency added.