Feb 11, 2020 13:17 UTC
  • About 14 Rohingya die, dozens unaccounted for as boat sinks off Bangladesh

At least 14 people drowned and dozens more were unaccounted for after a boat carrying Rohingya refugees sank off southern Bangladesh early Tuesday, officials say.

Some 130 people were packed on the fishing trawler that was trying to get across the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia, coast guard spokesman Hamidul Islam said

Seventy of them had so far been rescued.

Many of the 700,000-plus Rohingya who fled a military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017 have tried to leave overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar district on boats headed for Malaysia.

Islam said the boat was one of two vessels that were making the hazardous journey.

"We have found one capsized boat. All of them were mainly from the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar. We haven't found any sign of the second boat yet. We will continue our operation," Islam said.

Malaysia is the favored destination of the Rohingya as it is a Muslim-majority nation and has a sizeable Rohingya diaspora.

With few opportunities for jobs and education in the camps, thousands have attempted to reach other countries in Southeast Asia.

Since last year, Bangladesh's law enforcement agencies have picked up over 500 Rohingya from coastal villages and boats as they waited to board boats.

At least seven suspected traffickers were shot dead in 2019 in clashes with police.