Man Overboard, Possibly Eaten by Sharks

man in engine room
file picture of a man in an engineroom

Published Jun 8, 2015 11:26 AM by Wendy Laursen

A coroner in Australia has ruled that a Chinese seafarer could have been murdered, thrown off a ship and then eaten by sharks.

Sun Peng, 28, had a fight with another crew member on board the bulk carrier Great Talent in March last year as it sat off Australia’s northern coast near Weipa, Queensland. The ship was waiting to load bauxite about 22 kilometers from the coast in waters reputed to be infested with sharks.

News.com.au reports that the Queensland coroner Jane Bentley has agreed with police reports that it is likely his body was thrown overboard and eaten by sharks.

“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,” she said.

She listed the cause of death as “undetermined but suspicious”. 

At the inquest in the Cairns Coroners Court, the court was told that Peng had been involved in a drunken argument with another crew member, Sun Wendong. There was pushing and smashing of glassware involved in the altercation, and Peng cut his hand. 

The following morning blood was found around the ship, and Peng was missing. The Brisbane Times reports that blood was found on the upper deck, A deck, B deck, all four tiers within the engine room and on the main deck, but there was no evidence of pooling which would have indicated heavy bleeding.

Wendong has denied stabbing Peng and throwing him overboard, and Bentley found there was not enough evidence for any charges to be laid.