The Cockling Disaster: 10 Years On

Today marks 10 years since 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in Morecambe Bay. Fishermen say the disaster wrecked their livelihoods.

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Morecambe MP tables Commons question on those convicted over the cockling disaster

David Morris MP has tabled a Parliamentary motion demanding to know how many years those convicted of the cockle pickering disaster served in prison.

That this House notes that Lin Liang Ren, Lin Mu Yong and Zhao Xiao Qing were all convicted for their involvement in the Morecambe Bay cockle pickers' disaster; further notes that the 10th anniversary of the disaster is in February 2014; considers that the people of Morecambe deserve to know how many years each served in prison in the UK; and further considers that the people of Morecambe deserve to know when they were deported and whether they are currently incarcerated in their native China._

– Parliamentary motion by David Morris, MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale


10 years since Morecambe Bay tragedy

23 Chinese cockle pickers died in the tragedy Credit: PA

Today marks a decade since the tragedy that took the lives of 23 Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe Bay.

They were working in the dark and faced a fast incoming tide. Emergency crews were called by one cockler who called 999 telling police: "Sinking water, many many, sinking water... Sinking water, sinking water."

Sadly only one cockle picker survived the disaster. The victims, aged between 18 and 45, were working for a gangmaster to send money back to their families.

Crews worked for 22 hours to recover the bodies and look for survivors Credit: PA

Michael Guy from the RNLI was out that night he told us his crew were confronted with a "sea of bodies." He went on to say "it was something no one had come across so in reality it's one of those things that generates memories and we have to live with them."

Following a trial gangmaster Lin Liang Ren was jailed for 21 counts of manslaughter, facilitating illegal immigration and perverting the course of justice and sentenced to 14 years at Preston Crown court.

Ordeal was 'horrendous' say RNLI crews Credit: PA

There has been no fishing in the bay for the past 5 years with fisherman in the area saying the tragedy also took their livelihoods. They claim if the beds were to re-open a similar disaster could happen again as the current permit system is not good enough to stop people cockling illegally.


The Cockling Disaster: 10 Years On

With tides as high as a house that can sweep in as fast as a car, and quicksands capable of swallowing someone whole, Morecambe Bay is no place to put profit before people.

Ten years ago, a gangmaster did just that and killed 23 Chinese cockle pickers.

They were sent out with no knowledge of the area's hazards, no English-language skills, and - for some - no ability to swim.

A decade on, our correspondent Rob Smith has returned to the Bay to speak to those who tried to save the cocklers.

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