Missing migrant boat found as two countries offer shelter

Migrants found by the BBC last week drifting off the coast of Thailand have been rescued by Indonesian fishermen.

A BBC reporter on the boat, first spotted last Thursday when it was stranded with a broken engine, says it is filthy and covered in insects.

It was one of many boats carrying thousands of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants adrift in the Andaman Sea.

Amid a mounting humanitarian crisis, Malaysia and Indonesia have said they will offer migrants temporary shelter.

However, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said they would not actively search for migrants, only provide shelter if they came ashore, and under the condition that the international community would help to repatriate or resettle them within a year.

Foreign ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand held emergency talks in Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur.

The migrant boat which arrived off Indonesia’s northern Aceh province on Wednesday, was first spotted last Thursday.

Those on board told the BBC’s Jonathan Head at the time that they had been abandoned by people smugglers and were running out of food and water. They said 10 people on board had already died.

The Thai navy gave them food and water and later fixed the boat’s engine and towed them out to sea. Contact was then lost with the boat.

The migrants say they were towed out to sea three times by the Thai and Malaysian navies and described how the Malaysian authorities escorted them virtually the whole way to Indonesia warning them never to return.

Credit: BBC