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2 Rohingya discovered deceased at sea following boat capsizing

ACEH JAYA, Indonesia: Local rescuers reported retrieving the bodies of two Rohingya refugees and spotting several others at sea on Saturday, following the capsizing of a wooden boat believed to be carrying around 150 people. The incident left many missing or dead. The Rohingya, mostly Muslim ethnic minority heavily persecuted in Myanmar, often embark on perilous sea journeys in flimsy boats to reach Malaysia or Indonesia.

Indonesian rescuers halted the search for remaining Rohingya refugees on Friday, despite survivors’ accounts indicating dozens were swept away on Wednesday when their boat capsized, along with another vessel trying to assist them.

Although fishermen spotted more than half a dozen bodies on Saturday, only two were recovered, confirmed Mirza Safrinadi, Aceh Jaya Search and Rescue Operation chief. “We evacuated only two people. Both were females,” he told reporters. “It’s confirmed, they are Rohingyas. According to the fishermen’s information, there are several more victims who drowned.”

Faisal Rahman, a United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) protection associate, stated, “two (bodies were) already evacuated, the rest are still in the process.”

Earlier on Thursday, authorities conducted a dramatic rescue of 69 Rohingya who had been adrift at sea for weeks before the boat capsized, with many found clinging to the overturned vessel. Additionally, six others were rescued by fishermen on Wednesday.

According to the UNHCR, from mid-November to late January, 1,752 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, arrived in the Indonesian provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra.- AFP

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