Myanmar — A boat carrying some 70 Rohingya refugees fleeing sectarian violence in Myanmar capsized and sunk Sunday in the Bay of Bengal, with only eight survivors found so far, according to reports.
Just last Friday the United Nations had expressed concern that 1,500 people had fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state last week in rickety boats, and feared the number would rise in the upcoming months, which annually sees an exodus of large numbers refugees starting in November.
The boat was headed to Bangladesh, as Muslims desperate to escape the violence of Buddhist mobs attacking the Muslim minority have sent thousands fleeing.
Women, children and babies were among those on board the wooden boat, which left at 3a.m. local time, according to reports.
The violence in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar has killed over 240 people in the past 18 months, and sent 250,000 fleeing their homes, mostly the long persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.
Reports have indicted Buddhist mobs chasing them down with machetes, iron chains and bamboo clubs.
Myanmar’s opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi recently blamed the violence on a “climate of fear” resulting from decades of living under a military dictatorship.