14 Dead as Rohingya Refugee Boat Sinks Off Bangladesh

14 Dead as Rohingya Refugee Boat Sinks Off Bangladesh14 Dead as Rohingya Refugee Boat Sinks Off Bangladesh

At least 14 Rohingya refugees, most of them children, drowned and scores more were missing Monday after their overloaded boat capsized in the latest tragedy to strike those fleeing violence in Myanmar.

Authorities in Bangladesh said the boat was carrying between 60 and 100 people when it overturned and sank in rough seas on Sunday night, AFP reported.

The bodies of 11 children, two women and a man were washed up on Shah Porir Dwip island in Bangladesh and border guards pulled 13 survivors from the sea, but the fate of the others remains unknown.

More than half a million Rohingya have left Myanmar since militant raids on police posts on August 25 prompted a brutal military backlash against the Muslim minority that the United Nations has said could amount to ethnic cleansing.

Around 150 have drowned trying to make the journey in small and rickety fishing boats that coastguards say are woefully inadequate for the rough seas.

Survivor Sayed Hossain wept as he watched the body of his two-year-old son being taken away to the local cemetery for burial.

“We set off at around 6pm. We did not have any choice but to leave our village,” he said, telling how the overloaded boat overturned when it hit a shoal and sank in rough water.

“They (security forces) have restricted our movements. Many are starving as we could not even go to shop or market to buy food,” said the 30-year-old Rohingya farmhand, who lived in a village east of Myanmar’s Buthidaung township.

Hossain’s mother, his pregnant wife and two children were all still missing.

The International Organization for Migration said some children on board had lost their entire families in the disaster and were now alone in a strange country.

Late last month more than 60 refugees are feared to have died when the boat carrying them from Myanmar capsized in rough weather in the Bay of Bengal.

While the worst of the violence appears to have abated, insecurity, food shortages and tensions with Buddhist neighbors are still driving thousands of Rohingya to make the arduous journey to Bangladesh.

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