Rohingya refugees drown as boat sinks on way from Myanmar to Bangladesh

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh — At least 60 Rohingya Muslim refugees have died, including many young children, after their overcrowded boat capsized as they fled violence in Myanmar. The packed boat took on water in rough weather near shore in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday, a survivor and police have said.

Police official Chailaw Marma said at least 10 injured people were being treated at a hospital in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. By Friday many of the victims’ bodies were being prepared for funerals in Bangladesh. Family members broke down as they cleaned the bodies of tiny children, some appearing less than a year old, in preparation for burial.

He said the Rohingya were traveling from Myanmar toward the Bangladesh coast by boat, but rough weather caused the sinking.

It was unclear how many people were missing.

“We don’t know an exact figure,” Marma said on Thursday.

A survivor, Abdus Salam, said they came from Mariumpur village on the other side of the Naf river that divides Myanmar and Bangladesh. He said as many as 80 people were on board the boat.

Marma said the accident took place at Paturiatek near Ukhiya in Cox’s Bazar district.

About 500,000 Rohingya Muslims have poured into Bangladesh over the last month to flee persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

United Nations officials have said the Myanmar military and police crackdown on Rohingyas in the country’s western Rakhine state amounts to “ethnic cleansing.” A team of U.N. observers had been scheduled to visit Rakhine on Thursday — the first foreign visit since violence escalated in August — but he trip was abruptly cancelled on Thursday morning by Myanmar’s government without explanation.

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