World / Asia-Pacific

Illegal migrants missing as boat capsizes off Bangladesh

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-11-07 17:22

DHAKA - Some 23 people have been rescued after a motorboat with 110 illegal migrants on board capsized early Wednesday in the Bay of Bengal close to Bangladesh's southeastern border with Myanmar, leaving some 87 people missing, an official said.

Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hasan, commanding officer of the 42nd Battalion of the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB), told Xinhua "We've rescued 23 passengers, some of them Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar."

On receipt of information, he said BGB, Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Coast Guard have rushed to the possible accident scene searching for missing persons of the boat with the help of local fishermen.

Hasan said there is no information about how many passengers of the sunken boat managed to swim ashore after it capsized about 20-25 nautical miles southwest of Teknaf under Bangladesh's Cox's Bazaar district, some 292 southeast of capital Dhaka.

The rescued persons said they were going to Malaysia in search of work illegally.

The tragedy comes less than a fortnight after a boat with over 135 passengers capsized in the Bay of Bengal near Shah Porir Island in Teknaf close to Bangladesh's southeastern border with Myanmar, leaving an unknown number of people missing.

Their destination was also Malaysia.

Hasan said the rescued persons could not tell how many of them were Rohigya Muslims from Myanmar.

"We've always found some Rohingya Muslims there in a boat either capsized or being stopped on the way while going beyond Bangladesh sea territory illegally," Hasan had earlier said.

About 28,000 Rohingya Muslims at the latest have reportedly been displaced from Myanmar following latest violence. In the incidents of violence at least 80 people have died and thousands of homes have been burnt down. Clashes with Buddhists in Rakhine in western Myanmar earlier this year also reportedly uprooted over 70,000 Rohingyas.

According to the Bangladeshi foreign ministry, more than 28,000 registered refugees are currently staying at two camps in southeastern Bangladesh, and there are 300,000 to 500,000 illegal Rohingya immigrants throughout the country.

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