Dhaka – At least 15 Rohingya Muslims have been killed after a fishing boat carrying them en route to Malaysia capsized in the Bay of Bengal, officials said on Tuesday.
Dozens others remained missing as engine-propelled boat carrying nearly 125 passengers sank early hours of the day near the Saint Martin’s island, said Saiful Islam, upzila nirbahi officer of Teknaf.
Divers from the coast guard and navy rescued 66 others, he added.
Lt Hayat Ibna Siddique, media officer of Bangladesh Coast Guard, said the refugees had set sail into the waters to go to Malaysia.
Local government official Noor Ahmed said bodies of 12 women and three children were recovered. The boat might have overturned in the sea when it hit an underwater stone amid dense fog in the early morning.
He said the victims are Rohingya Muslims who lived in crowded camps in Teknaf and Ukhiya sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar where more than 1 million refugees have been living after the fled persecution in neighbouring Myanmar.
Of them, more than 740,000 crossed into Bangladesh following the anti-insurgency crackdown on the ethnic minority group in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state in 2017.
Unknown number of Rohingya men were killed, their women raped and homes torched during the crackdown which the United Nations term a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.
Deaths from capsized boats carrying undocumented migrants are common as many Rohingya living in Bangladeshi camps as well as locals try to cross the Bay of Bengal for Malaysia or other destinations.
Local official said two engine boats carrying more than 300 Rohingya men and women started from Teknaf coast in the early morning. One of them met the tragic accident while the other could not be traced yet.