Asylum seekers in Asia

Boat chase ends in seven caught, including Vietnamese baby girl, over illegal Hong Kong entry

The group, which also had two suspected mainland snakeheads, were intercepted off Conic Island in eastern waters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 10:47pm

A boatload of Vietnamese illegal immigrants, including a baby girl, was intercepted by authorities after a brief chase off Sai Kung Country Park on Tuesday morning, according to police.

Among the seven detained were two suspected snakeheads – gang members that specialise in people smuggling – from the mainland.

The group was on board a wooden boat equipped with an outboard motor when it was ­approached by police off Conic Island, also known as Fan Tsang Chau, in eastern Hong Kong waters shortly before 10.30am.

The group was arrested after being chased by three police boats.

“Upon seeing the police ­vessels, the boat made a U-turn and sped off,” a police source said.

The two mainland men were arrested for aiding and abetting ­illegal immigrants
police spokeswoman

He added that during the chase, one of the two snakehead suspects jumped into the sea in a bid to escape.

Police plucked the mainland man, aged 27, out of the waters and arrested him, while other officers intercepted the group’s boat.

In addition to the two mainland men, a police spokeswoman said five Vietnamese illegal ­immigrants – a man, three women and one baby girl – were also found on board.

She said one of the women complained of feeling unwell and was taken to Tseung Kwan O ­Hospital.

“The two mainland men were arrested for aiding and abetting ­illegal immigrants and the five Vietnamese were arrested for entering Hong Kong illegally,” the spokeswoman said.

Officers from the marine ­police regional crime unit are handling the case.

The source said the group ­arrived from the mainland and one of the Vietnamese people had filed a non-refoulement claim.

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This was the third batch of ­illegal immigrants arrested in the city in a week.

On May 23, four Vietnamese ­illegal immigrants – one man and three women – were arrested on board a taxi after they arrived in Hong Kong from the mainland by boat. They went ashore rocks along High Island, Sai Kung.

On May 24, 10 male illegal ­immigrants – six Bangladeshis, three Pakistanis and one Afghan – arrived from the mainland by boat in Lantau South Country Park. One of the Bangladeshi men died in a fall from a cliff.

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Police arrested the other nine men for entering the city illegally. No snakehead was caught in the incident.

The source said after the ­previous two cases, police stepped up patrols around the city’s waters, leading to the interception of the boat on Tuesday.

“It is possible snakeheads thought fewer police officers ­patrolled the city’s waters during the dragon boat races across the city. So they chose this time to smuggle the group into Hong Kong,” he added.