Sri Lankan Navy rescues 71 drifting at sea for 11 days

March 3rd, 2008 - 6:02 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, March 3 (DPA) The Sri Lanka Navy rescued 71 illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh suffering from dehydration on a wooden trawler found drifting off the northeast coast following engine trouble, a navy spokesman said Monday. At least 20 - 17 Myanmarese and three Bangladeshi - had died during the trip and their bodies thrown into the sea before the boat was rescued 150 nautical miles off Mullaitivu, 260 km northeast of Colombo.

Initial investigations revealed the boat, which initially set sail from Myanmar Feb 9 and was on its way to Thailand and Malaysia with 91 illegal immigrants, has been drifting since Feb 21 when the engine failed.

The navy sent two of its deep-sea surveillance units to rescue those aboard after being alerted about the drifting boat by fishermen.

“All the victims are in serious conditions due to prolonged dehydration and starvation. Navy medical teams are presently attending to the victims,” the spokesman said.

The 50 Myanmar nationals and 21 Bangladeshis rescued were being transported to Trincomalee harbour, where representatives of their respective diplomatic missions will meet them.

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