Monday, February 18, 2013

Sri Lankan navy rescues 32 Myanmar boatpeople


Monday, 18 February 2013 11:31 Mizzima News

Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the country’s navy on Saturday rescued 32 Myanmar nationals who were drifting off the island's east coast, the second incident of its kind this month.

Sri Lanka's Navy rescued 32 persons of Myanmar nationality whose damaged wooden vessel had began to sink in the deep seas 250 nautical miles east of the island on February 16, 2013. (Photo: Sri Lankan Navy)

“Sri Lanka Navy Ship 'Sagara' [launched] a successful rescue mission over 250 nautical miles away from the shores and saved the lives [on] the distressed vessel. The wooden vessel had begun to sink in the deep seas east of Sangamankanda point, said the Navy Spokesperson Commander Kosala Warnakulasriya,” the Ministry’s statement said.

Sri Lanka confirmed that the group consisted of 31 male adults and a boy, though it did not confirm whether the boatpeople were identified as being from the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, hundreds of whom have been taking to the high seas in recent months to escape religious persecution in Myanmar.

According to a report by China’s Xinhua News Agency on Monday, the group has told Sri Lankan officials that as many as 100 others are missing at sea.

The boatpeople reportedly told the authorities in Galle that 130 of them had set off two months ago in three wooden boats to reach Australia. It is believed that two of the boats sank and a third was leaking and stranded when it was spotted by local fishermen who alerted the Sri Lankan fisheries department.

All the boatpeople were taken to a hospital in Galle for treatment with many reportedly suffering from acute dehydration.

On February 3 the Sri Lanka navy rescued138 Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationals—presumably Rohingyas—at sea.

Related articles:

  1. UNHCR calls for SE Asian neighbors to accept Burma’s boatpeople
  2. Rohingya boatpeople to be deported from Thailand
  3. Rohingya boatpeople reportedly forced to swim ashore to Malaysia

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