16 dead after Rohingya boat capsizes in Bay of Bengal

An overcrowded boat carrying some 125 refugees from Rohingya camps in Bangladesh sank Tuesday in the Bay of Bengal, killing at least 16 people, Bangladesh officials said.

The Coast Guard, navy divers and other rescue workers discovered the bodies of 14 women, one child and one man after a wooden boat tipped over off St. Martin’s Island, a senior official told The Associated Press.

Noor Ahmed reported that some 62 refugees had survived on the boat. He said traffickers even took minimal care of them to get on the boat from different locations as it was heading for Malaysia.

Iqbal Hossain, additional superintendent of police at Cox Bazaar, said by phone that the boat had flipped over due to overcrowding and that it might also have been carrying additional cargo.

Hossainsaid the bodies were shipped to nearby Shah Poryr Island and the rescue operation is ongoing. But he wouldn’t give an exact figure on how many more are still missing.

Human traffickers usually lure refugees, promising them a better life abroad. Many past attempts at illegal boat travel have been disrupted by the Coast Guard.

Since August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from neighbouring Myanmar to escape the brutal suppression by Myanmar’s military. Myanmar had long claimed that the Rohingya were “Bengali” migrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact that their families had been living in the country for several generations. Almost all have been denied citizenship since 1982, which has effectively rendered them stateless.

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