Shen'ao Fishing Port in Ruifang District, New Taipei, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Two Indonesian fishermen fell into a coma on Tuesday while working inside the hold of a fishing vessel at the Shen’ao Fishing Port in New Taipei, Taiwan.

At 4pm on July 3, two men, aged 29 and 34, were assigned to move fish stock out of the ship’s hold, The Liberty Times reported.

When a fellow worker later discovered the two men lying unconscious, he immediately turned on the hold’s ventilation system and called for police assistance.

Firefighters attended the scene along with paramedics, who established that the two victims had stable vital signs.

They were sent to hospital, where the younger man remained in a coma while his co-worker regained consciousness after responding to treatment.

Preliminary investigations showed that the two victims spent no more than 20 minutes inside the chamber, which was notable for a strong, nauseating fishy smell.

Doctors suspect that unconsciousness came about due to something more serious than a lack of oxygen in a confined space. They speculate that the men may have been subject to unknown harmful gases.

Investigators now await the results of blood tests.