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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 10:54 GMT
Bodies of dead cocklers returned
Flowers laid in memory of the 21 cocklers who died
Eleven survivors are allowed to stay in the UK to help with prosecutions
The bodies of the 21 cockle pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay earlier this year have been repatriated to China.

The Home Office has agreed to pay for the bodies to be flown back and a short statement said its thoughts were with the families of the deceased.

Most of the dead, who were in their 20s and 30s, were flown out of the UK on Wednesday evening.

In February 23 Chinese workers drowned when they were trapped by the incoming tide. Two bodies are still missing.

Eleven surviving cocklers are being allowed to stay in the UK so they can help police with their inquiries into the events of that night.

Map showing Liaoning and Fujian provinces, China
Most of the victims came from Fujian province
Twenty of the victims identified by detectives were from the Fujian province of China, and one was from Liaoning province.

Officers from Lancashire Police flew out to China in April to interview the families of those who were believed to have died.

Five people have been charged in connection with the deaths, including a father and son from Liverpool.

They are due to appear in court again next month.

Lawyers acting for the accused have told Lancashire Police they do not want second post-mortem examinations, so the coroner has agreed to release the bodies to their relatives.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said the incident was a "human tragedy" and confirmed the bodies had been repatriated.

"Our thoughts are with the families on this sad occasion," she said. "Out of respect to the families, and to the deceased, we will not be commenting further on details of the flight."




SEE ALSO:
Body in bay 'not missing cockler'
14 Jul 04 |  Lancashire
Pair face cockling tragedy charge
14 Jul 04 |  Lancashire
Cockler safety tackled at meeting
16 Aug 04 |  Lancashire



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