Cambodia searches for 23 missing Chinese after boat sinks

PHNOM PENH - Cambodian rescue teams searched on Friday for 23 Chinese nationals missing after their boat sank near islands off a coastal town popular with tourists and gamblers.

Authorities rescued 18 people after the boat went down early on Thursday off the town of Sihanoukville, the provincial government said in a statement.

It was not clear what caused the boat to sink.

Authorities are questioning survivors, who were taken to a nearby island.

The provincial government gave no details about the identity of the Chinese nationals and it was not clear if any Cambodians were among those rescued or the missing.

Cambodia is popular with tourists and business people from China but many Chinese people have been unable to travel over the past couple of years because of Chinese Covid-19 restrictions.

One of the survivors, 27-year-old Chengui Sheng from China's Fujian province, told authorities the boat had been carrying 41 people, including three women, the provincial government said.

Border police conducted an initial search and authorities have asked fishermen to join the effort, offering a reward of about US$480 for every rescue.

Sihanoukville is home to several casinos and the town has in recent years also seen police raids on suspected cybercrime operators, some with links to China, police have said. REUTERS

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