More than 70 Burmese nationals, apparently smuggled into Thailand by human traffickers, have been found starving in the forest in the country’s central Chumphon province.
Thai officials who rescued the migrants said they were lost and had not eaten for three days.
A resident in the village of Nai Ngon in Chumphon District, some 475 kilometres south of Bangkok and situated close to the Burmese port town of Ranong, said 28 migrants were found in the woods next to the village on the morning on 8 May and 46 more were found on 9 May.
“On Friday morning, six of them came to the village and indicated that they were starving so we collected some food and gave it to them,” she said.
According to the villager, the migrants told them they were smuggled into Thailand overland by four traffickers carrying automatic rifles. They said they each paid 7,000 baht (over US$200) to be smuggled from Ranong to Malaysia, but had travelled for three days by foot before they were left behind in the woods with no food.
Some 50 local Thai police officers have since been deployed to search for the migrant’s hideout.
The 74 migrants are reported to be between the ages of 12 and 44, and include six women. Thai officials said four of the women say they were raped by the traffickers, and that a 32-year-old women and her child had been abducted by the gang.