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Human trafficking suspected as 65 Rohingya Muslims are found shipwrecked in south Thailand
A fishing boat which according to officials was smuggling Rohingya refugees is seen stranded at Rawi island, part of Tarutao national park in the province of Satun, Thailand, bordering with Malaysia, June 11, 2019. Department of National Parks Wildlife and Plant Conservation/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Human trafficking suspected as 65 Rohingya Muslims are found shipwrecked in south Thailand

BANGKOK: Thai officials said they discovered 65 ethnic Rohingya Muslim refugees who were shipwrecked and stranded in southern Thailand.

The chief of Tarutao National Marine Park, Kanjanapan Kamhaeng, said the boat carrying the Rohingya was found after several Thai and Myanmar citizens told park officials their ship had broken down. They initially denied they were transporting Rohingya.

Kanjanapan said the boat was found smashed onto a rocky shore and a preliminary check showed it was carrying 65 Rohingya and several Thai and Myanmar citizens who were identified by the Rohingya as in charge of operating the ship.

Kanjanapan said the Thai navy took the group away to be processed by immigration officials.

Navy Cmdr. Thanapong Sudrak said authorities will investigate whether the incident involved human trafficking.

Rohingya originate in Rakhine state in Myanmar, where they face extreme persecution by authorities and majority Buddhists, prompting their flight over the years, many on rickety boats that were sometimes pushed back into the open sea by countries such as Thailand.