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Boat with 70 Rohingya Muslims leaves Myanmar for Malaysia: sources

From Reuters - April 14, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A boat carrying 70 Rohingya Muslims set out for Malaysia from Myanmar this week, two sources and a rights group said, the latest to embark on a dangerous sea journey.

The vessel will be the second to arrive in Malaysia this month as the Rohingya flee Myanmars Rakhine state before the onset of the monsoon season in May brings storms at sea that could endanger their lives.

The boat should arrive in Malaysian waters in the next week, assuming it doesnt come under distress or make landfall in Thailand, said Matthew Smith, co-founder of Fortify Rights, adding that the group had received reports of the boats departure on April 12.

This is a tremendously dangerous journey, Smith told Reuters, adding that the passengers faced deprivation of food, water, and physical space as well as the risk of capsizing.

The boat left Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine state, in the early hours of Thursday, after being initially stopped by authorities, said two sources with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the topic is a sensitive one.

Seventy people were on the boat, both the sources said.

Weather conditions or pushbacks by authorities could carry the boat into Thai or Indonesian waters, one source said.

A Myanmar government spokesman did not immediately respond to telephone calls from Reuters to seek comment.

Last month, Indonesian fishermen rescued at least five Rohingya Muslims off the island of Sumatra, with media saying five more had died at sea.

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