A Shanghaiist reader sent us this last week:
Does Shanghai seem maybe 22 people less crowded these days?
If so, it’s because that’s how many recently made the trip from Shanghai to Seattle…via shipping container. Apparently not part of Hu Jintao’s advance scouting party.
Look for them repatriated at a port near you soon.
Seems the stowaways are still in custody in the US. The Shanghai Daily picked up on the story today. It appears they are calling the group the “Shanghai 22” … or it just might be bad headline writing. Part of the story:
The stowaways, 18 men and four women, spent 15 days in the container 12 meters long, two meters high and two meters wide.
They are believed to be in their 20s and 30s and all were in good physical condition when they reached Seattle.
Michael Milne, a spokesman for the US Customs and Border Protection, said the stowaways were believed to be part of an organized human smuggling operation, but no further evidence was available yet.
He said the container the stowaways stayed in was equipped with water bottles, food, blankets, battery-operated lights and a simple toilet.
The very detailed Seattle Times story (linked to above) added a little more color:
And while they had portable fans to disperse the air, security guards who discovered them would later describe the stench inside the container as overwhelming. Agents found mounds of discarded food packages and containers filled with human waste.
And some background:
Investigators Wednesday were still trying to learn more about the stowaways and find the smugglers — both in the U.S. and China — who helped get them here. In some cases, officials say, smugglers, known as snakeheads, can take in between $30,000 and $60,000 per person.
Had they not been caught, the stowaways likely would have been taken to another city with help from the smugglers, possibly Los Angeles or New York, to be reunited with family or friends.
The container with the stowaways did not originate in Shanghai, and the stories didn’t mention where the people were actually from. We’re betting Fujian.
Photo from the Seattle Times.