Ferry sinks in Bangladeshi waters

Nov 30, 2007 (DVB), A ferry carrying 250 passengers, many of them Rohingyas from Arakan state, sank near St Martin's island in the Bay of Bengal on Sunday causing an unknown number of casualties.

The route followed by the ferry is often used by people smugglers illegally taking Rohingyas from Burma and Bangladesh on to Malaysia and other destinations.

The ferry was filled beyond its capacity and sank after hitting rough waters.

Those who could swim swam to St Martin's island, which is in Bangladeshi territory.

When they came ashore many of the survivors went into hiding, and the incident was not reported because they did not want to attract any attention to their arrival.

This has made it difficult to establish the number or survivors, casualties and missing people.

Tin Soe, editor of the Bangladesh-based Kaladan news agency which covers Rohingya issues, said that information was limited because of the illegal status of the passengers.

"Normally the passengers aren't told where they're heading or which route they will be sailing on," he said.

Reporting by Khin Maung Soe Min

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