ACTNews, BHASAN CHAR – At least 27 Rohingya refugees have been missing after their boat sank during an attempt to escape a Bangladeshi island camp criticized by human rights groups, officials said.
Police said the small fishing boat sank with 41 Rohingya on board after encountering rough weather in the Bay of Bengal near the island.
“Refugees were on board the boat when it capsized late last night. Some 14 of them have returned unharmed,” Mahe Alam, the police chief on the Bhasan Char island, told Anadolu Agency over the telephone.
He added a joint rescue operation conducted by police, coastguard, navy, and air force is still ongoing to reach out to the missing ones.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sujit Kumar Chandra, camp-in-charge of the Bhasan Char Rohingya project, said that around 40 Rohingya were on board the boat that capsized in the Bay of Bengal. “We are continuing our search to find the missing ones,” he said, adding that no dead body has been found yet.
Chandra added that the missing included women and children. A two-year-old was dramatically saved by his father who held the child above water while swimming for safety.
The sinking of the Rohingya refugee ship is not the first. In February 2020, at least 15 Rohingya refugees died as an overcrowded wooden boat carrying over 100 people capsized en route to Malaysia.
The Bangladeshi government is working to relocate nearly 20,000 Rohingya refugees from the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar to the island of Bhasan Char. However, this transfer was opposed by many refugees, who considered the island prone to natural disasters.