Seven Sri Lankan Tamil refugees were reportedly drowned in the Palk straits while they were returning in a country boat to the island from Rameswaram on Saturday.
A police official told PTI that 13 refugees from various camps in Salem, Tiruvannamalai and Coimbatore had boarded the boat near the Pamban bridge with the help of their agent Ottaipal Murugan but the boat capsized in the rough sea as its driver failed to control it.
The incident took place between the third and fourth sand dunes. While six persons managed to return to Rameswaram,seven others were drowned, 'Q' branch inspector Thiagarajan said.
He said three of the six had been detained at the naval office while three others clandestinely went to their respective refugee camps.
The seven bodies were yet to be recovered.
The boat driver was absconding.
The 'Q' branch is a wing of the Tamil Nadu police dealing with extremist activities.