Maungdaw: At least 60 people are reportedly feared dead after a trawler capsized off the coast in Burma's western Arakan State last Tuesday as it was transporting the passengers to Malaysia illegally, said local residents from nearby areas in both Burma and Bangladesh.
"The trawler capsized last Tuesday at Nga Koung Toe located at the mouth of the Naff River between Burma and Bangladesh. I heard at least 60 people are feared to have died in the accident," a resident from Burma said.
The trawler set off for Malaysia from Alan Than Gaw in southern Maungdaw Township, opposite Bangladesh's Teknaf Town, last Tuesday night. When the trawler reached the area of Nga Koung Toe a few hours later, it reportedly sunk suddenly with the weight of too many passengers.
According to local sources, there were nearly 200 people on board from Burma and Bangladesh, all intending to cross illegally into Malaysia in search of work.
"Some bodies have been found in the Pa Din area of southern Maungdaw Township in the last few days, while others have been found in Bangladesh. Most are still missing," the resident said.
A resident from St. Martin Island in Bangladesh confirmed with Narinjara over the phone that five or six bodies were found on the Bangladesh side, but most of the bodies are suspected to be in the capsized trawler that has still not been found.
The English-language version of "The Independent" in Bangladesh published a report of the incident on 26 November that stated 163 people are still missing, but reported that all the missing are Bangladesh workers.
"There were not only Bangladesh citizens, but also Burmese who are Muslims from the border area. They all left for Malaysia with arrangement by a local agent who collected between 20,000 and 40,000 Taka per passenger for the trip to Malaysia by boat," the Bangladesh resident said.
A team of Burmese officials from several departments, including the Maungdaw District police, visited the area on Friday to investigate but did not disclose any information about the incident, according to a local report.
An unknown police officer from Maungdaw confirmed the incident occurred to Narinjara over the phone, but declined to disclose any further details about the accident of number of casualties.
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