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Weekly recalls cockling tragedy in anniversary edition

A weekly newspaper has published a special supplement to mark the 10th anniversary of a cockle picking tragedy which claimed 23 lives.

The Morecambe Visitor has put together an eight-page supplement to remember the tragedy in Morecambe Bay on 5 February 2004, when a group of Chinese workers lost their lives in the area’s notorious tides.

Along with the supplement, the paper has put together a series of exclusive video clips on its website to mark the 10th anniversary.

Reporter Michelle Blade and photographer Garth Hamer also travelled out to the scene of the tragedy, three-quarters of a mile out in Morecambe Bay, with a local fisherman by quad bike, mirroring the journey taken by the cockle pickers in 2004.

Out in the bay, it became clear that many of the still-full cockle bags and a vehicle, which had been hidden beneath the sands, had re-emerged and this image made the front page of this week’s edition.

Editor Nicola Adam said: “Ten years ago today marked the most terrible night in Morecambe’s history and sparked a news story that would resonate for a decade.

“For the small team at The Visitor, the loss of 23 Chinese lives in the unforgiving bay on February 2004 was one of the biggest and far-reaching story they would ever cover as journalists.

“What happened that night is still informing law and policy today. Has it gone far enough? Probably not.

“But what became apparent through the reporters’ research for this special edition was that night’s tragedy is still very much in the thoughts and hearts of the people of Morecambe with a mixture of guilt, grief and horror.

“In our reporting, we have looked at then, now, and into the future to ensure lessons have been learned.”

In the paper, reporters told the story of the fateful night, the repurcussions of the tragedy and looked at what still needs to be done to legislate against gangmasters.

They also looked at the impact of the tragedy on the town of Morecambe, interviewed many of those who played a role on the night and looked at efforts to develop a cultural understanding with China.

After discovering that the gangmaster jailed for his part in the tragedy had been deported after only serving part of his sentence, The Visitor has also worked with local MP David Morris – who has tabled a motion asking for clarification on the lengths of times actually served by those convicted.

The paper's supplement features the faces of those who died in the tragedy.