Local villagers found a boatload of Rohingya in Koh Lanta near the Krabi province in southern Thailand today, allegedly while on their way to Malaysia before a rain storm forced them to seek temporary refuge on the idyllic island.
Krabi governor Kittobodee Prawit, who confirmed the discovery of the wooden boat and its 56 occupants, said it was unclear where the boat originated from, but the occupants claimed they were heading to Malaysia.
The villagers found the boat at about 4am local time and notified the authorities.
"They (the Rohingya) informed the officers they wanted to go to Malaysia, but had to reroute their boat to Koh Lanta due to the rain storm," he told Bernama when contacted today, adding that passengers of the boat included men, women and children.
Local authorities, he said, distributed food, clothes and fuel to the Rohingya before letting the boat and its passengers continue their journey to Malaysia.
The boat, according to Kittibodee, left Koh Lanta at about noon.
For past several years, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar's Arakan State have been forced to flee their home due to killings and human right abuses allegedly committed by the country's army, the Tatmadaw.
The atrocities suffered by the Rohingya has sparked condemnation by the international community.
Although many escaped to the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, thousands of Rohingya also choose perilous journeys in wooden boats across the Andaman Sea to Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia to escaped the atrocities back home.
Many of the Rohingya did not survive the journey as their unseaworthy boats sank midway to their destinations due to storms and rough sea condition among others.