Agence France Presse
Published — Wednesday 7 November 2012
Last update 7 November 2012 3:07 pm
TEKNAF, Bangladesh: Authorities say 23 people have been rescued after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Bangladesh coast, but about 50 others are missing.
The boat was reportedly carrying about 70 illegal migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims, to Malaysia when it sank in the Bay of Bengal early Wednesday.
Border commander Lt. Col. Zahid Hossain says no bodies have been recovered so far.
He quoted several survivors as saying they saw some bodies after the boat sank off Bangladesh’s Teknaf coast, 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of the capital Dhaka.
Another coast guard official Lt. Badruddoza says survivors said they were traveling to look for jobs in Malaysia.
No other details were immediately available.
The latest tragedy comes after a boat carrying some 135 passengers, mostly Muslim Rohingya refugees who had fled unrest in neighboring Myanmar, sank in the Bay of Bengal on October 28. Only around half a dozen made it to safety.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya have fled Myanmar in past decades to escape persecution, often heading to neighboring Bangladesh, and recent unrest has triggered another exodus.
Since the unrest erupted, Bangladesh has been turning away boatloads of fleeing Rohingya. The policy has been criticized by the United Nations but Bangladesh said it was already burdened with an estimated 300,000 Rohingya.
Myanmar’s 800,000 stateless Rohingya, described by the United Nations as among the world’s most persecuted minorities, are seen by the government and many Burmese as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.