As many as 85 Rohingya Muslim refugees are missing after a boat capsized early this morning in the Bay of Bengal, officials reported.
Voice of America said the overcrowded vessel was sailing toward Malaysia from Teknaf, Bangladesh to find work.
Fishing boats and other craft had saved some passengers, but a rescue mission was underway for the remaining survivors.
Among those attempting to rescue the Rohingya were coastguard and naval ships, The Hindu.com reported.
The website said rescuers pulled 55 to safety.
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Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hasan from the Border Guard of Bangladesh told media the boat sank about 9 miles from shore after departing on Tuesday.
The boat carried 110 people, many of them Rohingya Muslim refugees but also some Bangladesh nationals, Xinhua News Agency reported.
“We don’t know even how many of the rescued persons were Bangladeshi nationals and Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims, because most the survivors rescued by local fishermen had left the scene immediately before we reached being afraid that they would be detained for their illegal efforts to get into Malaysia,” Hasan told Xinhua.
Rohingya Muslims often flee to Bangladesh from violence in neighboring Myanmar, where they are considered outsiders.
Nearly 30,000 are living in Bangladeshi camps while as many as 500,000 live in the country illegally, Xinhua said.
Late last month, another boat carrying Rohingya Muslims capsized in the Bay of Bengal with 135 aboard.
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