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Singapore turns away ship believed carrying Rohingya

SINGAPORE,
Dec 13 – Singapore has turned away a ship carrying 40 people
rescued off Myanmar, port officials said Thursday, amid media reports
the passengers could be stateless Muslim Rohingya.


Singapore’s
Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said it denied entry to the
Vietnamese-registered bulk carrier Nosco Victory because of a lack of
information about its passengers.

The
authority said in a statement it had received a “pre-arrival
notification” that a vessel which rescued 40 people from the sea
off Myanmar wanted to enter Singapore.



In
coordination with the MPA, India’s Maritime Rescue and Coordination
Centre in Port Blair advised the ship’s captain to “proceed to
the nearest place of safety to disembark the rescued persons”.


However
the captain ignored the instruction and insisted on proceeding to
Singapore, which was at least three days away, the MPA added.

Information
provided by the vessel’s master concerning the rescued persons is
sketchy and there is no other official documentation to assist at
this point, but they do not appear to be persons eligible to enter
Singapore,” the MPA said, without providing further details.

Australia’s
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper said the 40 are believed to be
Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar’s western state
of Rakhine fleeing ethnic violence there.

Clashes
between Buddhists and the Rohingya have left scores of people dead
and displaced more than 115,000 people since June.

According
to the Herald, the 40 were believed to have been in the water for 30
hours before they were rescued on December 5.

It
said they are survivors from a Bangladesh-flagged ship the Nayou that
sank on December 4 while on its way to Malaysia, a largely Muslim
country that has a large Rohingya population.

Up
to 160 Rohingya aboard the Nayou are believed to have drowned, the
newspaper said.

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