A boatload of migrant workers, crossing illegally from Burma to Thailand, capsized in heavy winds.

Passengers missing after Kawthaung boat capsizes from heavy winds
Wed 04 Nov 2009, IMNA, Rai Maraoh
A boatload of migrant workers, crossing illegally from Burma to Thailand, capsized in heavy winds. Only a portion of the passengers have been accounted for, the remainder are still missing.

The boat capsized due to heavy winds on Tuesday, November 3rd, at about 8 pm. The vessel, which had been carrying 12 passengers, had intentionally launched under the cover of darkness to provide more security for the crossing boat. 7 of the passengers have since been rescued, while 5 remain missing though no bodies have yet been recovered.

“Most people don’t know about this because the police have hidden information about this cause. We heard 5 people are dead and 7 people are alive”, said a Kawthaung resident.

According to the resident, Kawthaung police have attempted to limit the spread of information about the accident over fears of a repeat visit from authorities in Naypyidaw.

On May 15th a boat accident occurred in the same area, resulting in a visit to Kawthaung by Nay Pyi Daw (capitol of Burma) authorities, to investigate the case. According to residents, authorities are worried that another visit would cause them problems. The passengers in Tuesday’s boat accident were all migrant works coming from upper Burma and had worked on an Oil Palm plantation at Kawthaung, before boarding the boat to enter Thailand illegally to find work.

“We think the missing migrant workers have died, but no one can see the dead bodies – maybe in 3 days the dead bodies will appear”, the resident added.

Authorities questioned the surviving migrant workers who explained that before their departure they had stayed at the broker’s house. The survivors gave the Kawthaung police the address of the brokers house, where the broker was arrested. The boat owner, who had piloted the boat and was one of the 7 survivors, has since fled fearing arrest.

The May 15th boat accident occurred after a boat meant to carry 11 passengers was loaded with 19 migrant workers. Traveling between Kawthaung and Ranaung, the transport capsized near Mwei island. Among the dead were 6 women and 5 men who had been traveling from Burma to find work in Thailand.

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