Hundreds of boatpeople rescued off Indonesia’s Aceh: official

BANDA ACEH: Hundreds of boatpeople were rescued by local fishermen from their wooden vessel off Indonesia’s Aceh province early Wednesday, an official and fishermen said.

Khairul Nova, a search and rescue official, said that 374 migrants, believed to be from Myanmar, had so far been rescued.

At 2 am (1900 GMT Tuesday) fishermen saved 102 boatpeople “from the sea of the Malacca Strait, including 30 children and 26 women”.

He added later that in the morning another 272 people were brought to shore.

Those rescued were taken to Simpang Tiga village, in East Aceh district, he said.

Teuku Nyak Idrus, from an Aceh fishermen´s organisation, told AFP the migrants had been found aboard a wooden boat off the coast.

“Their condition is very weak,” he told AFP. “Many are sick, they told me that some of their friends died from starvation.”

He said local people were providing food and water, and medics were treating the sick.

The rescue came as the foreign ministers of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia were meeting near Kuala Lumpur to discuss Southeast Asia´s migrant boat crisis.

Some 1,500 Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar, fleeing persecution, and Bangladeshis, seeking to escape grinding poverty, have already arrived in Aceh in recent days after being abandoned by people smugglers.

They are among several thousand who have made it to land in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand after being dumped by smugglers following the disruption of long-established human-trafficking routes.