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Boat carrying 100 people sinks

world Updated: Nov 25, 2007 16:34 IST

AP
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A boat carrying about 100 people, possibly being ferried by human traffickers, sank on Sunday off a southern Bangladesh island bordering Myanmar waters, leaving at least one person dead, a police official said.



The wooden fishing boat went down near Saint Martin's island, about 120 kilometers south of the coastal resort town of Cox's Bazar, said local police chief Banaj Kumar Majumdar.



One body was recovered, but information on whether there were more casualties and other details about the accident were sketchy, Majumdar said.



The passengers' nationalities were not immediately known, but Majumdar said they could be Bangladeshis or Myanmar refugees from camps here.



He said police and border patrol officials had been sent to the scene.



Police suspect human traffickers had been using the boat to try taking the passengers to either Thailand or Malaysia, Majumdar said.



Several thousand Myanmar refugees, mostly Muslims known as Rohingyas, have fled to Bangladesh over the years, claiming persecution by Myanmar's military junta and economic hardships.



In the last three months, police and the coast guard have arrested about 500 people, Bangladeshis and Myanmar refugees, in the same waters, mainly on trafficking or illegal entry charges.



Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, a delta nation with about 250 rivers. Such accidents are often blamed on poor navigation, unfit vessels and lax enforcement of safety regulations.