Coroner rules Chinese seafarer could have been murdered, thrown overboard and eaten by sharks

Brisbane: A coroner in Cairns has ruled that a Chinese seafarer could have been murdered, thrown off a ship and eaten by sharks in waters off far north Queensland.

Sun Peng, 28, disappeared from the Hong Kong-registered bulk carrier Great Talent in March last year, hours after a fight with another crewmember.

Police could not determine whether he had fallen overboard or if he had been murdered and thrown off the deck into the waters off Weipa on the Cape York Peninsula.

“It is clear that if Mr Peng was alive when he left the vessel, he would not have survived for any length of time in the water around the vessel, and, if he was not alive, his body would have been disposed of very quickly by the predatory marine life in the area,” the coroner ruled this week.

Cause of death was listed as “undetermined but suspicious”.

Sub had become involved in a drunken argument with crew member, Sun Wendong.

Witnesses reported seeing the pair fighting and some glassware being smashed.

The crew awoke the next morning to find extensive blood trails around the vessel, but no sign of Peng.

Sun Wendong has denied stabbing his colleague and throwing him overboard.

Incidents of violence at sea have come under the spotlight in recent weeks. A Chinese seafarer killed two colleagues and seriously injured another in a horrendous stabbing incident a fortnight ago, while UK-based charity Sailor’s Society has recently launched its Wellness at Sea campaign designed to highlight the issues of mental health for those serving at sea.


Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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