Dhaka: Dozens of Rohingya Muslims, who were fleeing from violence-hit Myanmar, were missing on Monday after their packed boat capsized in a river near the Bangladesh border, a media report said.
Thousands of Rohingya Muslims have already fled to Bangladesh, while many others are on their way to cross the border, as fresh bout violence erupted in Myanmar, where the military has allegedly launched a reign of terror such as mass rapes, murders and burning of villages.
A Bangladeshi fisherman has reportedly rescued a woman who claimed that her "overcrowded" boat had sunk in the Naf river after it was chased by a Myanmar army speedboat.
"We heard a woman's desperate cry for help in the morning while we were fishing in the Naf. We quickly paddled to the spot and saw she was fighting to stay afloat," fisherman Suman Das told AFP by phone.
"The woman told us that their boat was overcrowded with Rohingya villagers who tried to cross the river to enter Bangladesh."
The woman did not know what had happened to the others and Das could not say how many people were on the boat.
But the private UNB news agency, quoting a Bangladeshi village councillor, said there were at least 31 Rohingya on board.
A Rohingya source told AFP by phone that the bodies of 13 women and children, two of whom had bullet wounds, had washed ashore in his village on Myanmar's side of the Naf.
This could not be independently confirmed, however, and Bangladesh police and border guards said they were not aware of the disaster.
It is estimated that about 30,000 Rohingya have been forced to leave their homes since a bloody crackdown by the Myanmar army in Rakhine state, where many of them live.
At least 10,000 have arrived in Bangladesh, the United Nations said last week, although Bangladesh says it has prevented large numbers from entering.
Myanmar has denied allegations of abuse, but has also banned foreign journalists and independent investigators from accessing the area to investigate.