Myanmar migrant survivors tell of throwing dead overboard

COLOMBO Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:50pm IST

Sri Lanka's navy soldiers assist an injured Myanmar national to a navy ship in Galle February 17, 2013. The navy said it rescued rescued 32 Myanmar nationals who were stranded after their wooden vessel begun to sink in the deep seas off the eastern coast. Picture taken February 17, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

Sri Lanka's navy soldiers assist an injured Myanmar national to a navy ship in Galle February 17, 2013. The navy said it rescued rescued 32 Myanmar nationals who were stranded after their wooden vessel begun to sink in the deep seas off the eastern coast. Picture taken February 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Myanmar nationals rescued from a sinking ship by the Sri Lankan Navy have told of throwing 98 people overboard after they died of starvation and dehydration, Sri Lanka's police said on Monday.

Sailors rescued 31 adult males and a boy on February 16 when their damaged wooden ship began to sink about 250 nautical miles off Sri Lanka's southeastern coast, Sri Lanka's navy said on its website (www.navy.lk).

"They said they had carried food and water for only one month and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship engine stalled," police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told Reuters. "Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies into the sea."

The survivors said they were aiming to seek asylum in Indonesia and Australia and identified themselves as Muslims from a border village between Myanmar and Bangladesh, Jayakody said, without elaborating.

Fifteen survivors are still in hospital in southern Sri Lanka while 17 of them have been discharged and detained after appearing in court, he said.

An estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims live in Myanmar but are officially stateless. The Myanmar government denies them citizenship, regarding them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, which does not recognise them either.

The United Nations estimates about 13,000 boat people, including many Rohingyas, fled Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year.

On February 2, the Sri Lankan navy rescued 127 Bangladeshis and 11 Myanmar nationals in an overcrowded wooden vessel that had begun to sink 50 nautical miles east off Sri Lanka's eastern coast.

The members of this group of 138 people are still in a detention centre near the capital Colombo, police said.

(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Jason Webb)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

CLEAN INDIA MISSION

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Amazon in India

Amazon in India

Amazon to sell packaged food and beverages in India - Economic Times.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

EXCLUSIVE - U.S. nears solution for safe disposal of Ebola waste.  Full Article 

Back in Jail

Back in Jail

Sahara chief Subrata Roy moved back to jail cell, office privileges withdrawn.  Full Article 

Asian Games

Asian Games

Boxer Sarita Devi showed lack of sportsmanship, say organisers.  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Haider" tries to pack in too many elements, writes Shilpa Jamkhandikar.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India set to run out of critical free drug for HIV/AIDS programme.  Full Article 

HK Protests

HK Protests

Prolonged Hong Kong protest could harm financial image, says envoy.  Full Article 

Fighting Islamic State

Fighting Islamic State

Turkey vows to fight Islamic State, coalition strikes near border.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage