LANGKAWI, Malaysia (AP) — An official says a boat crammed with more than 500 refugees, likely Rohingya and Bangladeshis, has been found off the coast of Penang island in northern Malaysia.
The official told The Associated Press that the overcrowded boat is full of desperate people and it’s too dangerous to board it. Authorities are contemplating what to do next, said the official on condition of anonymity. The official is not authorized to speak to the media.
Thousands of Bangladeshis and Rohingya, a long-persecuted minority in Myanmar, have become victims of human traffickers who promise them safe passage to Malaysia. But in recent weeks the traffickers have abandoned their human cargo and set them adrift in the sea off Malaysia and Indonesia.
Some estimates put their number at 6,000.