At least 15 Rohingyas drowned and 52 others went missing after a boat with 138 people of the displaced group aboard capsized in the Bay near St Martin’s Island early Tuesday while sailing for Malaysia from Cox’s Bazar.
The Rohingyas were illegally travelling to Malaysia by a fishing trawler from Teknaf, Lt Commander M Hamidul Islam, assistant director (intelligence) at Bangladesh Coast Guard Headquarters, told the daily sun.The trawler hit a rock in the sea around 4:00am and started to sink, fishermen said. They informed coastguards about the incident.
On information, coastguards rushed to the spot and began a rescue operation at about 7:30am. A naval ship took part in the operation.
Coastguard officials said bodies of 15 Rohingya people have been recovered so far. Seventy-one people, including 12 women and three children, were rescued alive.”
Locals said the boat was hardly 40-feet long through which they attempted a dangerous 1,250-mile voyage to Malaysia from Bangladesh.
Trafficking often increases during the November-March period when the sea remains safest for the small fishing trawlers used in the risky trips.
Coastguard’s ships ‘CGS Mansoor Ali’ and Shamyol Bangla, Bangladesh Navy’s ships ‘BNS Durjoy’ and ‘BNS Karatoya’, conducted the rescue operation.According to intelligence information, all the people in the boat were Rohingya refugees and going to Malaysia with the help of brokers, said Lt Commander Hamidul Islam.
Two brokers — Nur Alam and Syed Alam — were arrested from the trawler, he added.
He also said, “We are continuing the rescue operation to find the missing people.”
Lt Commander Nayem ul Haque, chief of the Coastguard’s St Martin’s station, said, “We have heard about two trawlers but found one boat capsized. We haven’t found any sign of the second boat yet.”
With few opportunities for jobs and education in the camps, thousands have attempted to reach other countries.
Lured by traffickers, thousands of poor Bangladeshis also attempt the perilous journey to Malaysia every year.
Pradip Kumar Das, office-in-charge of Teknaf Police Station, said all the bodies have been sent to Shah Parir Dwip in Teknaf.