Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Five Chinese fishermen shoved their clothes into plastic bags and jumped Naked overboard into Wellington Harbour in a spur-of-the-moment bid for more money, police say. The men were Sailors on one of two South Korean Squid Boats which had been working off the Falkland Islands and were anchored about 450 metres offshore in Wellington Harbour on Saturday afternoon. The boats were due to berth at Aotea Quay this morning. The ship's agent raised the alarm about 11.30pm on Saturday and the police launch Lady Elizabeth III and tug boats were sent to search the water and shoreline. Two of the men were quickly found by pilot launch Tarakena and pulled from the water. The Squid Boat Doo An 11 found two others soon after, but a fifth was still missing when the search was called off at 3am yesterday. A second search of the coastline yesterday failed to find any sign of the missing 31-year-old. Senior Constable Dave Martin said he initially feared the man had drowned, but after questioning the men with the help of an interpreter, he was satisfied the man had made it ashore. Mr Martin believed they decided to flee the boat on the spur of the moment. "One jumped overboard and started swimming and the others who saw him decided to follow. "They put their clothes in a plastic bag and followed him." The missing man is believed to have been the first one into the water and would have had a 10-minute lead on the others, he said. It was likely he came ashore near Kaiwharawhara then got dressed into his wet clothes and fled into the night. When asked why they jumped ship, the Sailors said "more money, more money".