At least 17 Rohingyas were killed and 30 remain missing after a boat capsized in bad weather in the Bay of Bengal earlier this week, aid workers in Myanmar said.
Volunteers said eight people were rescued from the boat, which was headed for Malaysia, a coveted destination for thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and poverty in Myanmar and Bangladesh. It was unclear from where the boat had set off.
“We started to find dead bodies from August 7,” said Min Htal Wah, chairperson of Shwe Yaung Metta Foundation, a rescue organisation based in the coastal province of Rakhine in Myanmar.
“We found 17 dead bodies within three days. We also found some people who were alive,” he told the media.
Min Htal Wah added that 10 women were among those killed in the incident.
Approximately 500 Rohingya Muslims were on board the boat which was traveling to Malaysia, according to a Rohingya relief worker in Maungdaw Township near the Bangladeshi border. The boat had left in poor weather.
Bangladesh is home to over 1 million Rohingya, many of whom fled a bloody crackdown by Myanmar’s military in 2017, which denies committing crimes against humanity.
Untold numbers of people have perished at sea while travelling in dilapidated boats to Muslim-majority Malaysia and Indonesia. They have perished from sickness, hunger, and exhaustion.