14 May, 2013
The United Nations says a boat evacuating as many as 150 Rohingya Muslim refugees has capsized off the coast of western Burma, as tens of thousands scramble to leave low-lying refugee camps in preparation for an incoming cyclone.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Tuesday a boat towing two other boats struck rocks near Pauktaw township in Burma's Rakhine state. It said an unknown number of people were missing, with many feared dead.
The incident happened Monday, as the refugees were being moved to what the U.N. office called "other Muslim host communities" in that part of Burma.
Aid agencies continue to warn of a possible humanitarian disaster that could result from heavy flooding and mudslides when tropical Cyclone Mahasen hits the coast of western Burma and Bangladesh late Wednesday.
Most at risk are the tens of thousands of people, mostly Rohingya Muslims, living in squalid refugee camps in flood-prone areas of Rakhine. They were displaced following Buddhist-Muslim violence last year that killed nearly 200 people.