About 100 Vietnamese "boat people" jumped overboard into Hong Kong harbor yesterday and dozens of others ran their old junks aground in nearby Macao in desperate and dangerous bids for freedom.
Those in Hong Kong had been stranded with about 3,000 other Vietnamese aboard the rusting freighter Skyluck for 33 days.
After leaping into the harbor, they faced a one-mile swim to shore. About 50 made it to the British colony's outlying Lamma Island, two were admitted to a hospital to be treated for exhaustion, and the rest were picked up by launches and sent back to the freighter, the government said.
Those who made it to shore were also returned to the Skyluck.
A government official said he was not sure whether all the refugees had been accounted for because he did not know how many jumped from the ship.
In the nearby Portuguese colony of Macao, a total of 61 refugees drove their two boats onto rocks near the islet of Coloane after being refused permission to land.
Officials said they may put the 61 in new boats and send them back to sea. Late last year, Macao stopped allowing refugees to land, saying its camps were filled with 1,300 Vietnamese.