TEKNAF, Bangladesh (AP) – Nearby fishing boats helped rescue 23 people after a boat crowded with illegal migrants capsized Wednesday off Bangladesh’s coast, but about 50 others remained missing, officials said.
About 70 illegal migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims, were reportedly traveling on the boat to Malaysia when it sank in the Bay of Bengal.
Border commander Lt. Col. Zahid Hossain said no bodies had been recovered so far, but quoted survivors as saying they saw some bodies after the boat sank off Bangladesh’s Teknaf coast, 320 kilometers (200 miles) south of Dhaka.
Survivors said they were traveling to Malaysia to look for jobs, coast guard official Lt. Badruddoza said.
The officials said other fishing boats rescued many of the survivors.
In recent years, poor young people have made dangerous attempts to go abroad for work, often through unscrupulous human traffickers, with local reports saying stateless Rohingya people living in Bangladesh often attempt the risky trips.
Another boat carrying more than 100 people sank in the Bay of Bengal last month, local media reported. Authorities have not confirmed that sinking, but police launched an investigation after several people filed complaints saying they survived the accident on the trip, organized by a gang of human traffickers.
More than 25,000 Rohingya people live in two official camps run jointly by the government and the United Nations in Cox’s Bazar. But hundreds of thousands of others live outside the camps after crossing the border from Myanmar in recent years for economic reasons or because of alleged persecution in Myanmar.
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