Guangdong authorities rescued 10 South Asians seeking asylum in Hong Kong after the motorized boat they took was overturned by big waves, Sing Tao Daily reports.
A body was also recovered, while two others remained missing, the newspaper said.
It was learned that mainland snakeheads, or those engaged in human smuggling activities, had told them to operate the boat by themselves to reach Hong Kong.
The Shenzhen Maritime Search and Rescue Center received a report on the accident from the crew of a ship passing by Nei Lingding Island in the Pearl River estuary at about 5:05 a.m. on Sunday, and subsequently deployed rescue teams.
After learning that more than 10 people fell into the sea, the center dispatched more vessels to join the rescue operations.
A total of 10 survivors and one body were pulled out of the sea after nine hours of operations, but two others were missing as one of the illegal migrants told rescuers that there were 13 of them in the boat.
Rescuers said there was only a slight chance the two could be found.
Initial investigation revealed that the illegal migrants were taken by snakeheads to the waters near the island early Sunday morning before telling them to board a boat.
As the boat could only accommodate four to six people, the snakeheads instructed them to operate it by themselves, giving them minimal instructions on how to reach Hong Kong, the Guangdong authorities were told.
Huge waves later hit and overturned the boat.
The survivors said they should not have believed the snakeheads, who had assured them that it was safe and easy to reach Hong Kong by boat.
It is believed that snakeheads are now more more wary about getting caught after the Hong Kong government imposed new and harsher penalties against unauthorized entries into the territory in May.
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