October 9, 2017 8:08 am

Rohingya crisis: At least 12 people dead, including children, as boat of refugees capsizes

Students of a local madrasa watch from inside their classroom as bodies of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who were killed when their boat capsized on the way to Bangladesh.

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

An overcrowded boat carrying Rohingya Muslims fleeing Myanmar capsized in the confluence of a river and the Bay of Bengal and at least 12 people died, police said Monday. Five of the dead were children.

READ MORE: Why Rohingya Muslims are fleeing Myanmar

Up to 35 people were on the boat and eight survived the capsizing, local police official Mainuddin Khan said. He said rescuers have retrieved 12 dead bodies but it was not exactly clear how many were missing. The search was continuing, but the sea remained rough.

The capsizing occurred near the Shah Porir Dwip in Bangladesh’s southern coastal district of Cox’s Bazar as the boat was moving toward Bangladesh late Sunday.

WATCH: Video shows hundreds of Rohingya Muslims swimming for their lives

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Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya have fled Myanmar since Aug. 25 when the military launched a crackdown that had been decried by the United Nations as “ethnic cleansing.” Including Sunday’s capsizing, boat accidents have killed at least 155 Rohingya trying to reach Bangladesh.

READ MORE: Rohingya mother cradling dead baby offers sobering look into crisis

Myanmar’s military launched what it described as “clearance operations” after an insurgent group attacked security posts and killed several police and border guards. The U.N. said Myanmar’s response was “disproportionate” compared to the insurgents’ action. The refugees arriving in Bangladesh have described indiscriminate violence and widespread arson in their home villages in Myanmar’s Rakhine state along the Bangladesh border.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says her government will continue to support the Rohingya but Myanmar must take them back.

WATCH: Calls growing for Canada to step up and help end the persecution of Rohingya Muslim minority

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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