Over a hundred Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshis leaving Cox's Bazar by a boat accidentally returned to the crisis-hit area of Myanmar after their vessel broke up on the sea, Myanmar officials have claimed.
On Monday morning a boat carrying 104 Bangladeshis and Rohingyas ran into trouble off the coast of Rakhine state, eventually breaking apart and forcing the passengers to head for shore, a Myanmar government spokesman told AFP.
The Daily Star could not independently verify the report.
The vessel was believed to be relatively close to the coast, enabling the refugees to survive, AFP reported.
For some, it is likely to be an unexpected and unwelcome return to a state they were forced to run from, carrying accounts of atrocities by Myanmar's army and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists.
"These Muslim people were going from Bangladesh to Malaysia by the boat owned by a Malaysian man," spokesman Zaw Htay told AFP yesterday.
"Some are Bangladesh citizens, the majority are from the camps... people from Bangladesh who fled," he said. Myanmar denies the Rohingya citizenship and officials do not recognise the term, instead labelling them "Bengalis", shorthand for illegal infiltrators from the neighbouring country.
They were taken to Nga Khu Ya camp in Rakhine's Muangdaw district - a purpose-built facility meant to process returning refugees.
Passengers had paid people smugglers around $235 to ferry them to Malaysia with the promise of another $2,100 once they were able to find work in the Muslim-majority country, Zaw Htay added.