Sri Lankan navy soldiers carry an injured man as part of a
rescue of 32 Myanmar nationals who were stranded after
their wooden vessel begun to sink in the deep seas off Sri
Lanka's eastern coast. REUTERS/Stringer
Myanmar nationals rescued from a sinking ship by the Sri
Lankan Navy have told of throwing 98 people overboard after
they died of starvation and dehydration, Sri Lankan police say.
Sailors rescued 31 adult males and a boy on February 16 when
their damaged wooden ship began to sink about 250 nautical
miles off Sri Lanka's southeastern coast, Sri Lanka's navy
said on its website .
"They said they had carried food and water for only one month
and they had been in the sea for two months after the ship
engine stalled," police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told
"Their captain and 97 others have died due to dehydration and
starvation. They also said they had thrown the dead bodies
into the sea."
The survivors said they were aiming to seek asylum in
Indonesia and Australia and identified themselves as Muslims
from a border village between Myanmar and Bangladesh,
Jayakody said, without elaborating.
Fifteen survivors are still in hospital in southern Sri Lanka
while 17 of them have been discharged and detained after
appearing in court, he said.
An estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims live in Myanmar but are
officially stateless. The Myanmar government denies them
citizenship, regarding them as illegal immigrants from
Bangladesh, which does not recognise them either.
The United Nations estimates about 13,000 boat people,
including many Rohingyas, fled Myanmar and neighbouring
Bangladesh in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year.
On Feb. 2, the Sri Lankan navy rescued 127 Bangladeshis and
11 Myanmar nationals in an overcrowded wooden vessel that had
begun to sink 50 nautical miles east off Sri Lanka's eastern
The members of this group of 138 people are still in a
detention centre near the capital Colombo, police said.