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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 19:23 GMT 20:23 UK
Chinese cocklers back at the Bay
Chinese cockler at Morecambe Bay
Chinese cocklers are still taking risks, says the RNLI
Chinese cocklers are back working in Morecambe Bay two months after the tragedy which claimed the lives of 20 of their countrymen.

They have been spotted cockle picking near Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, where the sands and the tides are notoriously dangerous.

It is on the opposite side of the bay from Bolton-le-Sands, near where the tragedy took place in January.

Local residents say they now fear more lives could be lost.

Alison Wood, of Newbiggin, said: "We don't know whether they know what the dangers are, we don't know whether they have been told.

Map showing Newbiggin and Bolton-le-Sands

"English people have been seen down here carrying wads of notes and they are presumably in charge of the Chinese people."

BBC North West Tonight spoke to a group of English cocklers who claimed to be in charge of the Chinese workers.

They said they had all the correct paperwork and the operation was legal.

The Chinese workers are searching for cockles about a mile off shore.

Cockles near Newbiggin are much bigger than those found near Bolton-le-Sands, but are much scarcer.

Residents have alleged that searching for them would not be profitable without employing cheap, immigrant labour.

Harry Roberts, of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), said January's tragedy could be repeated as Chinese cocklers were still risking their lives.

He said: "It could quite easily happen again. If people got cut off by the tide they are not going to get through the channels.

"They have just got to get off in good time."

But residents have told the BBC that Chinese cocklers have been spotted working on the tides after dark.

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