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Chinese crew throws two Tanzanians into shark-infested ocean for fear of coronavirus

A Chinese captain of a cargo ship has pleaded guilty to attempted murder after he and his six crew members last month threw two Tanzanian stowaways into the shark-infested waters of the Indian Ocean.

The captain and his crew reportedly assembled a flimsy raft out of plywood, plastic drums and rope and gave the two stowaways a bottle of water each and a life jacket, telling them to use their hands as paddles in the waters infested with great whites, hammerheads, tiger and bull sharks, according to New York Post.

Officials say that the captain, identified as Cui Rongli, and his men, Lin Xinyong, Zou Yongxian, Tan Yian, Xie Wenbin, Xu Kun and Mu Yong, all pleaded guilty to attempted murder after throwing the stowaways off their ship out of fear of catching coronavirus.

The stowaways, 30-year-old Hassani Rajabu and 20-year-old Amiri Salamu, were only given two bottles of drinking water and a life jacket each to swim to the shores of the ocean.

Due to concerns of the coronavirus pandemic, they asked the stowaways to wear face masks but they refused.

Not knowing their Covid-19 status, the crew said they separated the Tanzanians and gave them food and water.

According to the accused, the stowaways wanted to know the vessel’s destination. The crew then built a raft from empty plastic drums and plywood, gave the stowaways life-jackets and water and asked them to leave the ship on the raft.

Fortunately, the two stowaways washed up on the Zinkwazi Beach, near Durban, three days later and were greeted by horrified locals who sent them to the hospital for hypothermia, thirst and hunger.

Upon docking at Richards Bay, the African Maritime Safety Agency impounded the MV Top Grace ship, and arrested its captain and crew. Rongli was fined Sh500,000 ($5,000) and each of his crew, Sh250,000 ($2.500).

The African Maritime Safety Agency impounded the MV Top Grace when it docked at Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

On March 26, the accused were handed over to immigration officials after paying their fines.