Seven Bangladeshi migrants rescued from sea: Myanmar

AFP , Monday 18 May 2015

Seven Bangladeshi nationals were rescued on Monday off the Myanmar coast after they were thrown from a fishing trawler packed with migrants heading to Malaysia, a coast guard officer said.

Coast guard station commander Dickson Chowdhury said the seven men were plucked from the water in the Bay of Bengal by a boat of Myanmar fishermen and handed over to local Bangladeshi fishermen.

"A Thai fishing trawler threw them into the Bay of Bengal. A Myanmar boat rescued them and handed [them] over to a Bangladeshi fishing boat. They are now under our custody," Chowdhury said.

He also said the seven had informed coast guard officers of three boats packed with Bangladeshi migrants and neighbouring Myanmar's persecuted Rohingya in the area.

"They told us that the three boats were parked five miles (eight kilometres) south of Myanmar's Sitaparokia coast. In one boat there were 68 people and the two others have more than 100 people each," Chowdhury said.

The claims could not immediately be verified by other government agencies.

Thousands of poor Bangladeshis and persecuted ethnic Rohingyas from Myanmar attempt the perilous journey to Malaysia and other Southeast nations every year.

Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have sparked outrage by turning away some overloaded vessels, and thousands of migrants are still believed to be stranded at sea after a Thai crackdown disrupted long-established people-smuggling and -trafficking routes.

Nearly 3,000 migrants have swum to shore or been rescued off the three nations over the past week.

Bangladesh's police and border forces have also launched a crackdown on the smugglers.

Impoverished Bangladeshis pay up to $3,000 to smugglers who claim high-paying jobs are waiting for them in Malaysia, which like Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation.

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