PHANGNGA : Marine police and local officials who inspected a boat off Ra island in Phangnga's Khura Buri district found 96 Rohingya migrants crammed into the vessel.
Authorities rushed to the scene on Friday afternoon after being informed of the boat's presence. They immediately brought the Rohingya back to the district.
It was the third Rohingya group arrested in Phangnga's territorial sea this month. A total of 387 Rohingya migrants have been rounded up and are being sheltered in the province.
The new batch of 96 Rohingya migrants comprises 62 men, six women, 14 boys and 14 girls.
Khura Buri district chief Manit Phienthong said these migrants had left their homes in Myanmar's Rakhine state on Jan 1. They wanted to travel by road via Thailand to Malaysia where they were promised good paying jobs.
Mr Manit said the Rohingya people with whom he had spoken said they were very hungry while travelling on the boat. Their provisions consisted of water and uncooked rice. Some of them asked the Thai government to send them to a third country, he said.
Mr Manit said most of the Rohingya migrants now being sheltered inside the Khura Buri compound were exhausted. Twelve of them were suffering from fever and were receiving saline solutions.
He said he had assigned a medical team from the district to provide them with medical checkups and care.
The refugees were arrested on the same day the Thai government announced it would allow Rohingya migrants detained in Thailand to stay in shelters in the South for six more months.
During this period, the government will hold talks with the Myanmar government and international organisations, including Unicef, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The talks will focus on resettling the refugees in a third country.
Meanwhile, Pornthip Rojanasunant, director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, said that DNA was collected from more than 800 Rohingya detained in Songkhla and its neighbouring provinces for a database. Dr Pornthip said blood tests also conducted showed evidence of drug use among some of the Rohingya. Officials also checked the migrants to see if they were carrying any explosive substances and did not find any. The check was prompted by cases the past in which Rohingya allegedly smuggled explosive substances into Thailand for use in the southern insurgency.
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- Writer: King-oua Laohong