Sunday, 24 March 2013

Rohingya found adrift off Phuket

The Nation

Residents of Phuket's Muang district and Marine Police officers yesterday morning rescued 106 Rohingya people whose boat experienced an engine malfunction and began drifting towards Koh Lhoan while they were heading to Malaysia.

The Rohingya, apparently exhausted and starving, were provided with drinking water and food.

One of the Rohingya, identified only as 35-year-old Hulabin, said the Rohingya left Myanmar's Rakhine state on January 22 but later found themselves lost in Indian territorial waters, eventually being apprehended off the Nicobar Islands, before being pushed out to sea on March 19. Heading for Malaysia, the boat got as far as Thai waters when it experienced engine problems.

So far this year there have been four incidents in which Rohingya boats have drifted into Thai waters off Phuket. The three previous cases were on January 1, when 73 Rohingya were arrested for illegal entry; January 29, when 205 Rohingya were apprehended but shortly afterward sent back out to sea; and February 22, when eight Rohingya were spotted wandering in Kamala village and arrested for illegal entry.

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