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Jakarta - Seven Indonesian seamen perished one after the other in their ship's hold in what appeared to be a deadly case of highly toxic rotten fish, said news reports.
The deaths occurred on Sunday aboard the KM Deli Balai Indah fishing trawler as it was returning home in Riau province, 900km north-west of Jakarta, after a month at sea.
Deputy captain Udin told The Jakarta Post that the tragedy unfolded after one seaman was sent to scrub the vessel's fish hold that hadn't been cleaned for a month.
The man collapsed quickly upon entering the hold, and six of his companions perished one after the other as they entered the 3m deep tank in a fatal rescue effort.
"After seeing seven enter the tank and not a single one re-emerge, none of the other crew members dared follow them," said Udin, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Upon docking, the hold was uncovered and all seven men were found dead on the bottom of the tank.
Udin said he suspected the men died from breathing in toxic air from the rotting fish.
Medical authorities in Riau were examining the bodies and the ship's fish hold to determine the exact cause of the deaths at sea. - Sapa-DPA