Marine police captured 21 South Asian illegal immigrants and a people smuggler in a sampan outside Hong Kong International Airport.
The youngest would-be migrant was three years old, Apple Daily reported Thursday.
The toddler’s 34-year-old father and 21-year-old mother were among the 14 Pakistanis detained. Four of the migrants are from India, and the rest are from Bangladesh.
None of the migrants speaks English or Chinese.
They were trying to enter Hong Kong in a sampan with no safety jackets.
The 20-year-old smuggler, surnamed Ng, from mainland China, was arrested for aiding and abetting illegal immigration.
At 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, marine police detected the seven-meter sampan west of the airport, slowly heading toward Shum Wat on Lantau Island.
The illegal immigrants were all lying down quietly in the sampan to avoid detection.
Police said it was foggy and there were high waves, which increased the difficulty of seizing the sampan.
Marine police have detained 93 South Asian illegal immigrants since the beginning of the year.
The number of illegal immigrants from South Asia has been rising in recent years.
Police said some people smugglers have spread rumors that illegal immigrants can apply for a refugee visa and obtain paid work in Hong Kong.
Many South Asians travel to Guangzhou or other cities in mainland China as tourists, police said.
They then pay between US$1,000 and US$1,200 each to a smuggler for the journey to Hong Kong.
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