A boat carrying Rohingya people, reportedly heading for Malaysia, sank in the Bay of Bengal near Rakhine state’s capital city Sittwe, a village administrator told RFA Tuesday. He said all but 10 of the 55 people on board are missing.
Eight men were found alive on a beach near the city’s Basara village on Monday night, hours after the vessel went down, along with the bodies of two women, said village administrator Soe Myint. He told RFA that authorities are still searching for the missing people.
“The boat sank after taking on water due to heavy rains and high waves in the sea,” he said.
“The boat reappeared yesterday. Two dead bodies were found and eight people were recovered [alive]. The rest of the missing are likely to die. Now we are looking for the bodies on the beach.”
He said 10 women and 35 men were unaccounted for, adding that eight people survived by holding onto plastic containers when the boat sank.
Residents said the survivors are being cared for in Basara village.
The junta-run Rakhine Daily News reported August 7 that the Rohingya had left Rathedaung township heading to Malaysia by boat.
More than 740,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine following a military crackdown on the ethnic group that started more than five years ago, and now live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Of the more than 600,000 that remained in Rakhine, around 125,000 are living in displaced people’s camps in the state.
Many Rohingya living in Rakhine state often leave by boat across the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia due to economic hardships and discrimination.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.