Kuala Lumpur: About 500
Myanmar nationals swam the last 500 meters to enter Malaysia
illegally at the end of a 15-day boat journey at the weekend,
leaving one dead, police said yesterday.
Police told AFP they had so far found 482 people, including the
captain of the 30-meter vessel, since Sunday and are looking for a
“handful” more still hiding out on the northwestern island of
Langkawi in the Malacca Straits.
They are believed to be one of
the largest groups of Rohingya Muslims to have reached Malaysia
this year after fleeing sectarian violence at home. Police said
the immigrants claimed to have paid $ 300 each to an agent in
troubled Rakhine for the trip, which media reports said left most
of them ill with some requiring hospital care.
Langkawi police chief Harrith Kam Abdullah said the captain of the
boat was arrested on Monday but he had denied any knowledge of
payments to an agent.
The Star newspaper also reported that one
man was killed after being hit by the boat’s propellers when he
jumped into sea and had been buried at a Muslim cemetery in Langkawi on Monday.
The immigrants have been handed over to the
immigration department to be processed at detentions centers
Meanwhile, a boat carrying about 70 Rohingya asylum seekers has
been found adrift in the Andaman Sea off the Thai resort of Phuket.
Thai authorities provided it with supplies yesterday so it could
be sent on its way.
Thai navy, police, health and other officials supplied medicine
and food and water to the asylum seekers, along with fuel for the
boat so it could continue its journey without landing in Thailand.
Thai policy is to not accept boat people but to aid them in
reaching a third country. The passengers include about 10
Clashes between Buddhists and the Rohingya in Myanmar have left
scores of people dead and displaced more than 115,000 people since
Thousands have sought refuge in Malaysia, a largely Muslim
country that has a big Rohingya population, estimated to number
about 23,000 by the United Nations’ refugee agency.
maritime agency said last month it “rescued” 40 Myanmar shipwreck
survivors, who are thought to be Muslim Rohingya, who had been
denied entry to Singapore.