In a massive rescue operation which lasted 20 hours on Saturday the Sri Lanka Navy rescued 138 persons of Bangladeshi and Myanmar nationalities whose overcrowded wooden vessel began to sink in the seas 50 nautical miles east of Oluvil.
All were brought to the Oluvil Fisheries Harbour and six of them, four males and two females, were rushed to the Akkaraipattu Base Hospital for treatment due to acute dehydration.
Navy spokesman Commander Kosala Warnakulasuriya, who was in Trincomalee for preparations for today’s Independence Day celebrations, told The Island yesterday that the Police were in the process of interrogating them, but a problem existed due to the language barrier. He said that the Sri Lanka Navy had approached the relevant embassies early yesterday with a request for interpreters. The interpreters should be present at Oluvil on Monday morning, Warnakulasuriya said.
Lt. Commander Janaka Gunawardena said that one Bangladeshi interpreter from Colombo had reached Oluvil yesterday morning.
The group of illegal migrants comprises 127 Bangladeshis and 11 Myanmar nationals––132 males, three females and three children, had been stranded at sea for 10 days when SLN rescued them in response to a request made by the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR). The rickety vessel had been first sighted by a local fishing craft named "Manju 4", which alerted the DFAR. An SLN FAC (P414) on routine patrol was immediately directed to the location followed by the dispatch of SLN Gunboat Udara and back up FAC (P439) for the rescue mission.SLN medical personnel provided emergency medical treatment to the rescued who were in various stages of dehydration due to their ordeal. One male died in the incident. Further investigations were in progress.
Meanwhile, Director General of Health Services Dr. Palitha Mahipala said that Regional Director of Health Services Kalmunai Dr. Ibrahim Lebbe had dispatched a team of doctors and Public Health Inspectors to Oluvil where the immigrants were being treated.
The ten persons who were admitted to the Akkaraipatttu hospital were treated for dehydration while the post mortem of the dead person was being conducted.
~ www.island.lk ~ By Ravi Ladduwahetty