[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Bangladesh coastguard rescues migrant boat

Stricken vessel carrying 300 passengers bound for Malaysia saved from rough seas in Bay of Bengal.

Last updated: 11 Jun 2014 12:29
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The Bangladesh coastguard has rescued a stricken boat in the Bay of Bengal packed with 300 nationals who were trying to flee to Malaysia, an official has said.

At least four bodies were on board the Malaysia-bound boat, which was being towed to a Bangladeshi island in rough seas, the official and one of the passengers told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

Bangladeshi coastguard commander Shahidul Islam told AFP that the remaining 300 passengers were safe.

"They told us that there are four dead bodies in the ship. We haven't searched the ship yet. We are bringing it to the Saint Martin's Island," he said.

High tensions

Islam could not confirm how the four died, but one of the passengers told AFP from aboard the boat that they were fired on as they tried to leave Bangladesh's southern coast near neighbouring Myanmar.

Foreign workers struggle in Malaysia

Bangladesh and Mynanmar share a land border and tensions are high. Last month a Bangladeshi border guard was killed following clashes with Myanmar border police.

"The Myanmar people fired at us," passenger Ziaur Rahman said by phone without saying if the military was behind the shootings. "They then fired at us from another ship and five to six people have died. The bodies are in the lower deck."

However, his claims could not be verified from government sources.

Another Bangladesh coastguard commander, Harun-or-Rashid, told AFP that the ship's engine broke down after a fight erupted between passengers and members of the crew from Myanmar.

Rahman, from Bangladesh's southernmost town of Teknaf, said he paid a human trafficker about $2,000 for the boat journey to Malaysia and that others paid more.

Thousands of poor Bangladeshi and ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar try to migrate to Malaysia every year via a perilous and sometimes fatal 3,200-km journey.

427

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps will be released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.