Five held in cockle-picker deaths probe

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The Independent Online

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 19 Chinese cocklers in Morecambe Bay, police said today.

Five people have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter in connection with the deaths of 19 Chinese cocklers in Morecambe Bay, police said today.

Three men and two women were arrested last night, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

They were being questioned about any involvement they may have had in organising the trip that led to the tragedy, he added.

No more details were available.

The tragedy, which left 17 men and two women dead, unfolded on Thursday night.

A frantic operation was launched involving two RAF helicopters and numerous lifeboats when the alarm was raised shortly after 9pm.

When the tide races in, the deadly waters are said to fill the bay faster than a man can run.

Sixteen people survived the disaster, including two people from England, nine current asylum seekers, and five people unknown to the immigration service before the tragedy.

Police in Merseyside said yesterday they were in the process of executing more than 10 search warrants in the area.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Gradwell said investigations were being slowed by communication problems.

He said many of the deceased may have only been in the country a couple of months.