Burma Navy Finds Boat With 727 Boatpeople off Southern Coast: Govt

By Reuters & The Irrawaddy 29 May 2015

RANGOON — Burma’s navy seized a boat packed with 727 people off the country’s coast on Friday, the government said, about a week after it found a similar boat it said carried around 200 Bangladeshi migrants.

The nationality of the people on the boat was unclear. Burma’s Ministry of Information described them as “Bengalis,” using the term the government uses to describe the country’s persecuted Rohingya minority as well as immigrants from Bangladesh.

A senior official at the ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

More than 3,000 migrants have landed in Indonesia and Malaysia since Thailand launched a crackdown on human trafficking gangs this month. About 2,600 are believed to be still adrift in boats, relief agencies have said.

According to the Facebook page of President’s Office director Zaw Htay, who goes by Hmuu Zaw online, a Burma Navy boat spotted the people-laden fishing trawler off the coast of the Irrawaddy Delta village of Dhamin Sate in Pyopon Township at 6:30am on Friday.

The boat was overwhelming packed with men, along with 45 children and 74 women, Zaw Htay said, adding that the Burma Navy had towed the trawler to Hi Gyi island.

Last week, a Burmese naval patrol found a boat with more than 200 migrants off the Arakan State coast. The Burmese government has said that 200 of those on board were Bangladeshi nationals who will be repatriated. It identified the eight others as Bengali.