5 Bangladeshi migrants remain missing, 5 rescued from Caribbean Sea off Colombia coast
Five Bangladeshi migrants were rescued from the Caribbean Sea near Puerto Escondido of Colombia after the boat carrying them capsized. At least five more Bangladeshis remain missing.
Initial reports had said 10 Bangladeshis were missing but following the rescue of five, latest reports have confirmed that five more remain missing. Meanwhile, a Nepali national was rescued from a nearby area, local media reported.
The Colombian media at the beginning confirmed the rescue of four Bangladeshis and said 18 passengers were on board the boat.
According to their latest report, the boat had 17 passengers, including two Colombians. So far six Asian nationals have been rescued. Three units of the Coast Guard are conducting operations in search of the remaining 11 people.
On Monday night, a group of fishermen found the four Bangladeshis in the waters of Puerto Escondido. Today, another Bangladeshi swam to the shores to a local banana field.
A few hours later, another group of citizens found a Nepali citizen in Fuerte Island, an insular area of Cartagena.
Later, members of the Coast Guard and the General Maritime Directorate (DIMAR) joined the rescue operation.
Colombia's Caracol Television reported that the migrants' boat had an accident while sailing from Colombia's Necoclí to Panama.
Pictures of three of the four rescued Bangladeshis were published in the Colombian media, but no one was identified.
The rescued Bangladeshis are in the custody of the Colombian immigration authorities. They are currently in San Jeronimo de Monteria Hospital.
Their condition is reported to be critical as they suffered from heat stroke, hypothermia and malnutrition, authorities said, adding that one of them was in an alarming state.
"They were trapped for several hours at the place where they were found. They all have signs of dehydration and one of them is in critical condition," said the Puerto Escondido mayor.
Captain Luz Perela Gonzalbez Silva, commander of the Coast Guard station, told local media that the rescued migrants said their boat had sunk after a crash. However, the matter has not yet been confirmed because their statements about what happened is not very clear.
"The rescued migrants did not have passports or any documents, which made it difficult to learn their full identities," he said.
"It was confirmed by an interpreter that these migrants were of Asian descent, more precisely Bangladeshis, who had left Necoclí for Panama," said RCCO Manuel Vargas, a representative of the municipality of Puerto Escondido.
The final destination of this migration route in the Urabá Antioquia region is the United States through the Darien jungle in Panama.
The Colombian Navy says fishermen are searching for the missing, along with three Coast Guard units.
Immigrant Bangladeshis from Nikoli have confirmed the identities of three of the five rescued. They are Sahab Uddin and Md Amishapara of Sonaimuri upazila of Noakhali district and Saidur Rahman of Sylhet. Saidur swam to the shore.
Besides, the identities of 5 Bangladeshis among the missing have been confirmed. They are Soheb, Badrul and Rony of Sylhet, Faisal Ahmed of Chand Kashimpur of Begumganj police station of Noakhali district and Sheikh Didar and Russell Ahmed of Amishapara of Sonaimuri.
Nur Islam, elder brother of Sheikh Didar, told The Daily Star that his brother had left the country a year ago. For a long time, he worked in Suriname, a small country on the Atlantic coast. Didar had arrived in Colombia via Brazil a few days ago. The family last talked with him on Sunday when they came to know that Didar would leave for Panama the next day.
The 14 Bangladeshis stayed in a hotel in Colombia for some time. There are 13 Bangladeshis in a picture taken before they left the hotel. It is believed that another person took the picture.
Ezaz Mahmud is a freelance journalist.