Dead stowaways too seasick to eat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 February, 2000, 12:00am

Three mainland illegal immigrants suffered so badly from seasickness in a shipping container they could not eat or drink and died from malnutrition and dehydration, an examination has found.

The men were found in the stinking, canvas-covered container in Seattle last month that had been loaded on to the freighter Cape May in Hong Kong 16 days earlier.

An investigation by the King County Medical Examiner's Office said there was plenty of food and water in the container where the illegals had hidden.

But the trio - named as Dian Biao Jiang, Ben Qing Zhu and Hui Zhang - were so seasick they could not eat or drink, chief examiner Jerry Webster said.

They were found along with 15 other illegal immigrants in the container below the vessel's deck on January 10.

Inside the container were crushed cardboard, blankets, plastic bottles and bags of human waste.

The medical examiner's office revealed that: Survivors ate canned porridge, apples and crackers on the journey; They shouted to the ship's crew after the men began dying but their shouts were either unheard or ignored; The three dead were put in the corner of the container and one of them was wrapped in a blanket.

Ben Qing Zhu died one day before the ship docked in Seattle.

Hui Zhang was the first to die, about eight days after leaving Hong Kong on January 1, and Dian Biao Jiang died about January 7.

A social worker telephoned the wife of Dian Biao Jiang in Fujian province to inform her of his death.

Relatives of the other two dead men could not be found, said authorities.

The survivors are reportedly applying for asylum. But Immigration and Naturalisation Service officials have said few of the illegal immigrants from Fujian province were likely to succeed.

Young men usually claimed asylum on the basis of China's one-child policy but most had not married or fathered any children.