Crewman's escape bid triggers sea, air search

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 May, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 May, 2002, 12:00am

A mainland crewman triggered a four-hour air-and-sea search off Sai Kung yesterday when he dived into the sea from a fishing boat to escape arrest.

The 36-year-old man, wearing a life jacket, jumped into the water as a Marine Police launch attempted to intercept his mainland-bound fishing boat off Shek Ngau Chau in Hong Kong waters, about 3km from Tai Long Wan in Sai Kung, shortly after midnight.

A search involving a Government Flying Service helicopter, Marine Police launches and fireboats was mounted after the man disappeared.

He was found at about 4am when the fishing boat was towed to the Marine Police northern base in Tai Po, where officers inspected the vessel and discovered the crewman had crept back on board and was hiding in a space in the hull.

'The sailor was crouching inside a space and holding a rope attached to a buoy. Half of his body was in the water and he was soaked through but otherwise okay,' a police officer said.

'He told us that he climbed up on to the vessel and hid himself in the space after jumping into sea. He was uninjured in the incident.'

A further four mainlanders, aged between 36 and 48, were arrested when officers intercepted the boat and went on board.

Police said a consignment of second-hand goods including 200 bicycles, 118 rice cookers and 67 fax machines were seized on board. The five mainlanders who were arrested for exporting unmanifested goods were being held for questioning by Customs officers who took over the investigation.