Refugees ‘so close’ to safety before tragedy
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”.
The bodies of refugees who perished in the tragedy were brought back to land.