A group of 65 Rohingya Muslims have been found on a shipwrecked boat off the coast of southern Thailand, Navy officials said Wednesday as authorities investigated whether they had been trafficked.
The boat was discovered early Tuesday in the Tarutao Marine National Park in southern Thailand, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the border of Myanmar.
Some 740,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since a brutal military crackdown in 2017 against the stateless minority in the Buddhist-majority country.
Most have escaped into overcrowded refugee camps in Bangladesh, while others have fallen prey to human trafficking rings as they seek better lives in Malaysia or Thailand.
A Thai Navy spokesman said there were 31 women and five children among the Rohingya on the shipwrecked boat.
One Thai man and five Burmese citizens were also in the group. The men said they were fishing in the area and had no link to the Rohingyas.
The six men "were detained for questioning because of their suspicious behaviour," Thai Navy spokesman, vice admiral Khan Deeubol, said Wednesday.
A provincial official said the group was initially investigated for illegal entry but the probe had broadened.
"Authorities are not ruling out other issues such as human trafficking," an Internal Security Command (ISOC) source in Satun province told AFP.
Bangkok, Thailand | AFP