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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 12:36 GMT
Cockle picker's last call to wife
Bereaved relatives in Fuqing, Fujian province
Bereaved relatives want answers about the deaths
The family of one of the Chinese cockle pickers who died in Morecambe Bay has told of his last call to his wife.

Father-of-two Guo Binglong phoned from the beach saying: "The water is up to my chest. The bosses got the time wrong. I can't get back in time."

The 30-year-old was among 19 people who died after getting caught out by rising tides on Thursday night.

Now his family want compensation from the UK government for their loss, and for his body to be flown home.

Passage paid

Lancashire police arrested seven people on suspicion of manslaughter following the deaths. Five are still being questioned and two were released on bail.

They have not confirmed the identity of any of the 19 victims.

But BBC correspondent Louisa Lim says his family from China's Fujian province have spoken about the heart-rending call in which he asked for them to pray for him.

Mr Guo had paid $30,000 (20,000) for his passage to England and had two young children, aged five and two and elderly parents to support, she said.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Guo and two others who died came from Zelang village near Fuqing city.

"Five or six others" came from villages nearby, it said.

Sign

Mr Guo's brother told the paper he was paid about 6 or 7 an hour to collect cockles and since arriving in Britain six months ago, had been able to send about 2,000 home.

On Tuesday police said the immigration service had matched eight of the dead against names in their records, but their "true identity" could still not be confirmed.

"Names provided by individuals entering the country for political asylum reasons do not always supply their true identity".

Three male and two female survivors arrested on Sunday are still being questioned by police.

Two fishing bosses, who say they were among those arrested, issued a statement through their solicitor on Wednesday, denying responsibility over the deaths.

David Eden and his son, also called David, who run the Liverpool Bay Fishing Company, said they had volunteered to speak to the police as they thought they might have information useful to the inquiry.

Police number for witnesses or those with information - 01524 63333




SEE ALSO:
Cockling survivors relate tragedy
10 Feb 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Two bailed in cockle picker probe
10 Feb 04  |  Lancashire
South China's fortune seekers
09 Feb 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Deadly sands of Morecambe Bay
07 Feb 04  |  Lancashire
Tide kills 18 cockle pickers
06 Feb 04  |  Lancashire
Rich pickings for big risks
06 Feb 04  |  England


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