Refugees ‘so close’ to safety be­fore tragedy

The Courier & Advertiser (Fife Edition) - - NEWS -

Ro­hingya refugees had no food but were in sight of land when their ship was wrecked with the loss of scores of lives, an of­fi­cial said.

The In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion, a group at­tached to the UN, said more than 60 peo­ple were con­firmed or pre­sumed dead af­ter flee­ing vi­o­lence in Burma to­wards Bangladesh.

Spokesman Joel Mill­man said the “very tragic” ac­ci­dent in­volved a ves­sel that had been at sea for two days with no food and had faced choppy seas.

“The de­tails are ab­so­lutely as­ton­ish­ing and re­mark­able,” Mr Mill­man said.

“At one point, he (the cap­tain) chose to an­chor the ves­sel, but that proved to be a fa­tal mis­take as the rough seas were much worse than he sup­posed. “This was eas­ily within sight of land.” “Peo­ple were ac­tu­ally quite dis­traught that they had got­ten so close to safety and yet drowned be­cause the boat was de­stroyed by the high seas and the tor­ren­tial rains and wind,” he said.

Mr Mill­man said 23 deaths have been con­firmed, while it is be­lieved 40 are miss­ing “pre­sumed drowned”.

Pic­ture: Getty.

The bodies of refugees who per­ished in the tragedy were brought back to land.

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