Chittagong, Bangladesh: Sri Lanka’s navy rescued 138 sea voyagers – Bangladeshis and Burmese nationals – from a sinking fishing vessel off the island’s east coast today, a Sri Lanka officials said, according to Zee News report.
One passenger was found dead while many of other plucked from the boat were dehydrated, said navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya. “The vessel had been adrift for 10 days before it sank today.”
“It was not immediately clear where the vessel was headed or whether they were asylum seekers and not able to get much information about their port of origin or the destination, but we have asked the embassies of the two countries to help us with translations.”
“Among those rescued were three women and three children.”
Fifteen of the voyagers, including two women and two children, were hospitalized with acute dehydration in local hospital and Colombo, police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said in a statement.
“14 voyagers were Burmese nationals while the others were Bangladeshis.”
The survivors would be recorded and they would be moved to a temporary shelter in Colombo under judicial supervision,according to police statement. In the meantime, the authorities at Oluvil fishing harbour were giving them shelter.
“We are certain that they were not trying to enter Sri Lanka, but their boat developed trouble in mid-sea and they drifted close to our shores,” Jayakody said.
Reports from local fishermen alerted fishing authorities who in turn asked for help from the navy which mounted a 20-hour search and rescue operation, officials said.
It was unclear if those identified as Burmese nationals were Rohingya — members of a stateless Muslim minority described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted groups — who had fled Myanmar.