Alexa

Nearly 300 immigrants feared dead off Indian coast

Nearly 300 immigrants feared dead off Indian coast

The Indian Coast Guard rescued two people off India's east coast during a search for more than 300 illegal immigrants missing for the past four days and feared dead, police said Tuesday.
At least 10 bodies have washed ashore near the Andaman Islands, said S.P. Sharma, the Coast Guard inspector-general on the islands.
Survivors told Indian authorities that more than 300 people from Bangladesh and Myanmar had jumped from a rickety boat that had been drifting for 13 days in the Indian Ocean and tried to swim to shore. Authorities rescued 105 others after pulling in the boat.
"We have no independent confirmation of how many people were on the boat. We are going by what those rescued have told us," Sharma said. The two newly rescued people were found Monday floating near the shore of the island chain.
The wooden boat, about 65 to 80 feet (20 to 25 meters) long and with no covering from the harsh sun, was not big enough to hold so many people, he told The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, the 105 rescued people have been given medical help and were being questioned by police in Port Blair, the Andaman capital, Sharma said.
The Andamans are a remote chain of Indian-ruled islands some 850 miles (1367 kilometers) off India's east coast. They lie closer to Thailand and Myanmar.
The illegal immigrants said they had been detained by Thai authorities for illegally entering Thai waters before they were sent back out to sea, said Vijay Singh, an Indian Coast Guard spokesman.
Police Lieutenant General Chatchawal Suksomjit, commander of Thailand Immigration Office, on Monday disputed that claim.
"Thai immigration office will never send illegal immigrants back to their countries by putting them back in the boat then let them go," Chatchawal said. "Normally, when we arrest them, we will send them back through immigration checkpoints along the border."
Poor Bangladeshis often pay up to $300 a head to trafficking syndicates to carry them to Thailand or Malaysia to search for better jobs. They often travel in dangerous boats known to capsize and sink.
The Bangladeshis are sometimes joined by Myanmar refugees, mostly Muslims known as Rohingyas, who have fled Myanmar's military junta for Bangladesh.
Malaysia estimates there are 500,000 to 700,000 illegal immigrants in the country in addition to more than 2 million legal foreign workers, who mostly work in low-paying menial jobs on construction sites and restaurants. But rights groups says there are 5 million undocumented workers in the country.
___
Associated Press reporter Michael Casey contributed to this report from Bangkok, Thailand.


Updated : 2021-04-12 22:11 GMT+08:00