Rohingya boat sinks off Myanmar’s coast
A boy dismantles a tent before moving to safer places in light of a cyclone. REUTERS photoA boat carrying up to 150 Rohingya Muslims fleeing a cyclone has capsized off Myanmar’s coast, the U.N. said yesterday, heightening fears over the storm which threatens camps for tens of thousands of displaced people.
The boat hit trouble on May 13 night after it left Pauktaw township in Rakhine state, said a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, adding there were an unknown number of missing as “they were travelling to another camp ahead of the cyclone.” A Rohingya Muslim living in Pauktaw said a boat carrying some 200 people had left seeking higher ground along the coast and told Agence France-Presse that many were feared dead at sea.
About 140,000 people displaced by communal violence last year are living in flimsy tents or makeshift housing across coastal areas of Rakhine - exposed to Cyclone Mahasen, which is gathering strength in the Bay of Bengal.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall somewhere near the Myanmar-Bangladesh border on May 16 night, according to an update by Myanmar’s Department of Meteorology and Hydrology. Authorities warned millions of people that the cyclone could barrel into their coastal homes, while Myanmar’s army has been deployed to help evacuate those most at risk.