Morecambe cockling tragedy 20 years on: faces of the victims who left behind heartbroken families

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In total, 23 lives were cruelly wasted in Morecambe Bay on February 5, 2004.

Nineteen of those who died were men, four were women, and all but one of them had children.The victims were: Guo Chang Mau, 18, the youngest victim and a single man; Yu Hui, 34, a married man with two sons aged 15 and nine; Zhou Xun Chao, 38, a married man with a nineyear-old son; Wang Xui, 27, a mother with an eight-yearold daughter; Wu Hong Kang, 34, a married man with two daughters aged 11 and six; Wu Jia Zhen, 36, married with a son and daughter aged 14 and 15; Xie Xiao Wen, 41, marriedman with two sons aged 14 and 16; Xu Yu Hua, 37, a married man with a 13-year-old son whose wife was believed to be one of the missing; Yang Tian Long, 33, separated from his wife with a 15-year-old son; Guo Bing Long, 28, a married man with a son aged six and a daughter aged three; Lin Guo Guang, 36, married with two sons aged 14 and 15; Lin You Xing, 38, a married man with two sons aged 16 and 14;Cao Chao Kun, 35, married with a son of eight years and a daughter of 13; Wang Ming Lin, 37, married with a son of 13 years and two daughters aged 13 and 16; Chen Ai Qin, 39, a widow who left an orphaned son and daughter aged 14 and nine; Lin Guo Hua, 37, married with a son and daughter aged 15 and 16; Lin Li Sui, 33, married with a son; Chen Mu Yu, 30, married with an eight-year-old son; Guo Nian Zhu,39, married with a son of 15 years and two daughters aged 14 and eight; Zhang Xiu Hua, 45, married with a 15-year-old daughter and 22-year-old son. (We have no photograph of Zhang Xiu Hua.)Two of the cocklers, Dong Xin Wu, 38, who was married with a 13-year-old son, and Liu Qin, 37, believed to be the wife of Xu Yu Hua, who were not found at the time, were later pronounced dead.The skull of Liu Qin was found eight years later.

Their 13-year-old son was left orphaned.The remains of Dong Xin Wu have never been found.One of the cocklers, Li Hua, made it on to a raised area of rocky sand called Priest Skear and was spotted by a helicopter crew and was picked up by the emergency services.Li Hua was the only person to be rescued.Chinese detectives and British police worked for three months after the tragedy to identify the victims.They used post-mortem photographs and some of the cocklers’ meagre possessions found either on their bodies or on the foreshore. Investigating officers met with families in China and compared DNA samples from relatives.All of the 23 people who perished were eventually named in May 2004.When some of the cocklers’ bodies were returned to China, the Chinese government compounded the families’ grief and tried to teach thema callous lesson by getting soldiers to leave the coffins in the street.

The families also had to contend with the snakehead gangleaders to whom they owed tens of thousands of pounds.

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