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23 saved, 50 missing in Bangladesh boat accident

TEKNAF, Bangladesh — Nearby fishing boats helped rescue 23 people after a boat crowded with illegal migrants capsized Wednesday off Bangladesh’s coast, but about 50 others remained missing, officials said.

About 70 illegal migrants, mostly Rohingya Muslims, were reportedly traveling on the boat to Malaysia when it sank in the Bay of Bengal.

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Border commander Lieutenant Colonel Zahid Hossain said no bodies had been recovered so far, but quoted survivors as saying they saw some bodies after the boat sank off Bangladesh’s Teknaf coast, 200 miles south of Dhaka.

Survivors said they were traveling to Malaysia to look for jobs, a coast guard official said.

The officials said other fishing boats rescued many of the survivors.

In recent years, poor young people have made dangerous attempts to go abroad for work, often through human traffickers. Another boat carrying more than 100 people sank in the Bay of Bengal last month, local media reported. Authorities have not confirmed that sinking, but police launched an investigation after several people filed complaints saying they survived the accident on the trip, organized by a gang of human traffickers.

More than 25,000 Rohingya people live in two official camps run jointly by the government and the United Nations in Cox’s Bazar. But hundreds of thousands of others live outside the camps after crossing the border from Myanmar in recent years for economic reasons or because of alleged persecution in Myanmar.

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