Rohingya land in Phuket

Phuket - Seventy-four Rohingya from Myanmar illegally entered Thailand on Tuesday after the captain of their ship lost direction on the way to Malaysia.

  • Published: 1/01/2013 at 06:04 PM
  • Newspaper section: breakingnews

Their 10-metre vessel is now anchored in front of Koh Bon in Muang district, which is about three kilometres from Rawai beach.

Authorities including police from Chalong station and immigration police were alerted by a tourist boat about the ship.

Arun Sophos, the Tambon Rawai Municipality chief, said all of the Rohingya were in poor condition as they had run out of water and food three days ago.

The Rohingya included 40 men, 20 children and 14 women.

One of the Rohingya said they set off on their journey on two boats on Dec 19 from Rakhine State with Malaysia as their destination.

A storm and big waves had separated them near Langkawi Island in Malaysia and their ship lost direction and unintentionally entered Thai waters, he added.

The municipality gave them food and fuel, and contacted the police and the navy to prepare to push them back to the sea as they insisted on going to Malaysia, Mr Arun said.

They could be a part of another group whose ship illegally entered Malaysia at the weekend.

Malaysian police told AFP on Tuesday that about 500 Myanmar nationals swam the last 500 metres at the end of a 15-day boat journey at the weekend, leaving one dead.

Police told AFP they had so far found 482 people, including the captain of the 30-metre vessel, since Sunday and are looking for a "handful" more still hiding out on Langkawi.

They are believed to be one of the largest groups of Rohingya Muslims to have reached Malaysia this year after fleeing sectarian violence at home.

Clashes between Buddhists and the Rohingya in Myanmar have left scores dead and displaced more than 115,000 people since June.

Thousands have sought refuge in Malaysia, a largely Muslim country that has a big Rohingya population, estimated to number about 23,000 by the United Nations' refugee agency.

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Writer: Achadtaya Chuenniran
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