Dozens of decomposed corpses have washed ashore in Burma’s western Rakhine state in the last month, an advocacy group said Wednesday.
Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which has been monitoring activities in the isolated, northern tip of Rakhine for more than a decade, said Wednesday 47 bodies washed up on beaches from May 12-24. She said it is believed that most of them drowned while trying to swim ashore.
Some were thought to be Rohingya Muslims trying to escape trafficking ships parked off the western coast, while many more were Bangladeshi.
Thousands of migrants have come ashore on boats in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in recent weeks. Efforts have been stepped up to rescue thousands more believed to be stranded at sea on rickety boats after being abandoned by traffickers.
Burma (Myanmar) presidential spokesman Ye Htut and other officials were in meetings Wednesday and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Rakhine’s chief minister, Maung Maung Ohn, had no word on the bodies, but said his office was checking into the report.
Lewa’s accounts have been backed up by villagers in Burma’s Rakhine state.
Most of the migrants are believed to be fleeing persecution in western Burma (Myanmar) and poverty in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, a vessel with more than 700 migrants was brought ashore by Burmese authorities Wednesday. The migrants were found drifting in the Andaman Sea last week in an overloaded fishing boat that was taking on water.
Journalists attempting to report on the stricken boat were detained at the weekend, with many forced erase the memory cards from their cameras.
Burma has repeatedly refused to accept blame for the crisis and denies the existence of the Rohingya, claiming instead that all the migrants are from Bangladesh.
Additional reporting from Associated Press