Thai authorities arrest 70 Rohingya packed in boat at Phuket

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PHUKET, Jan 1 – Thai authorities inspected a boat floating at Koh Bon in the southern province of Phuket and found 70 Rohingya migrants after being informed that a suspicious boat was at the location.

Chalong Police Station Superintendent Pol Maj Kitipas Dejintrasorn, Rawai Mayor Aroon Sorot and other government officials hurried out to meet the boat off Rawai Beach in the provincial seat.

The authorities found 70 Rohingya migrants crammed into the boat. They were exhausted, hungry and thirsty, as they had no food for several days.

After questioning, the migrants told the Thai authorities that they left Myanmar December 19 try to gain refuge in a third country but their boat was hit by a storm and it ran out of fuel.

Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj-Gen Chote Chawanwiwat instructed Chalong Police Station to coordinate with Marine Police and the Royal Thai Navy to prevent them from going ashore as they are considered illegal migrants.

But he said they would be treated appropriately, under a humanitarian basis.

The Rohingya, mostly Muslim, are regarded by the Myanmar government as interlopers from Bangladesh, but regarded by Bangladesh as Myanmar people, have fled Myanmar in the past few years in an attempt to find a home where they will not be targets of persecution.