15 Rohingya Refugees Drown To Death As Overloaded Boat Capsizes Off Bangladesh Coast
At least 15 Rohingya refugees drowned and dozens more than 50 others were missing after their boat capsized off southern Bangladesh as it tried to reach Malaysia on Tuesday, according to coast guard officials.
Reportedly, the boat carried 130 people, many of whom were refugees in Bangladesh's Rohingya camps.
"It sank because of overloading. The boat was meant to carry a maximum of 50 people. The boat was also loaded with some cargo," CBS News quoted a coast guard spokesman, Hamidul Islam as saying.
Seventy-one people have been rescued including 46 women by the Bangladesh coast guard. Among the dead, 11 were women and the rest children.
The coast guard were informed by the fishermen after they saw survivors swimming and crying for help in the sea.
According to the survivors, the boat's keel hit an undersea coral in shallow water off Saint Martin's island, Bangladesh's southernmost territory, before it sank.
"We swam in the sea before boats came and rescued us," said survivor Mohammad Hossain, 20.
Coast guard commander Sohel Rana stated that three survivors, including a Bangladeshi, were detained over human trafficking allegations.
In 2017, the Myanmar army began a genocidal campaign to get rid of Rohingya, a minority Muslim ethnic group in the country that has long been oppressed by the government.
One of the survivors who lost her two sons in the tragic incident, Anwara Begum said that her family paid a Bangladeshi trafficker $450 per head to be taken to Malaysia.
"We're first taken to a hill where we stayed for five days. Then they used three small trawlers to take us to a large trawler, which sank," she said.
A migration expert whose group works with Rohingya to raise awareness against trafficking, Shakirul Islam told CBS News that the desperation in the camps was making refugees want to leave.
"It was a tragedy waiting to happen," he said.
"They just want to get out, and fall victim to traffickers who are very active in the camps," Islam added.
Nearly one million Rohingya live in the refugee camps.
With few opportunities for jobs and education in the camps, thousands have tried to reach other countries like Malaysia and Thailand by attempting the hazardous 1,200-mile journey.