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Horrible Fate of Smunggled Passengers.

, _^ A Blocking discovery was made ill the. ; Japanese steamer Fushiki Maru, which l. , arrived at Hongkong on the 26th March, . having left Nagasaki on tha 21st. .For . some days a bad smell had been noticed , in the engineers' measroom, which gradui ally grgw' worse, and was attributed :t« dead rats. After a long search it was, on , - the 26th traced to a. compartment above ." one of the water tanks,. alongside the! •* engine-room. On, the manhole. being 'I' opened a rush of fonl air took place, and ; six naked bodlies were seen. The coal in the main hold was quickly removed to get t . '■* atth6sUdingdoortothet^nk,and when this j was opened*a'horrible sight was revealed, Eight dcvid bodies and four still alive were disclosed, all completely naked, their clothes tawing been diseased, on "WCQUftt}

of the intolerable heat. The compartment is about three feet high and two feet wide and extends across the ship. It is used only for the purpose of getting at the tank for examination purposes. In this cramped place 12 persons—one a man and the others women—had been stowed for a week. Japanese women are not allowed to leave their own country without official permission, but frequent attempts are made to smuggle them on board steamers. That appears to have been the case here, the -party of ten girls, in charge of a man ' and an old woman, being stowed away in the hole described, where there was neither ventilation nor light. They had a supply of food and water with them, so that starvation was hot added to their other sufferings, but that any of them should have survived a week's confinement in such a, place is simply wonderful. The man was one of those who succumbed, but the old woman survived. The bodies of the dead were all in a more or less advanced state of decomposition, and the atmosphere was stifling. . The survivors were in a shocking condition, their bodies being swollen and covered with prickly heat. They at once received such attentiou as those on board were able to give, warm baths being provided for them and clothing supplied. The story told by the women is that they were induced to leave their homes by the man who died by promises of obtaining good situations in Hongkong, and on arrival at Nagasaki on the 19th March they were put on board the steamer. They got into the compartmentby the sliding door from the hold, before the cargo was fully loaded, and until jbhe door was closed they had no idea of the sufferings they were to undergo. Afterwards they found themselves literally buried alive, without any power of eseape or of attracting attention. It has been impossible to ascertain at what particular time the eight deceased persons severally succumbed, but the survivors state that the heat of the iron plates became so great that the living lay across the bodies of the dead in order to secure relief.

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Bibliographic details

Horrible Fate of Smunggled Passengers., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2435, 21 May 1890

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Horrible Fate of Smunggled Passengers. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2435, 21 May 1890

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