Malaysia intercepts boat carrying Rohingya refugees

Malaysia intercepts boat carrying Rohingya refugees
In this March 31, 2018, photo, people travel in a boat a day prior to it being found underneath a bridge by a Thai island, damaged in a storm. Malaysian authorities said Monday, April 2, 2018 that they have stepped up patrols to intercept a boat thought to be carrying dozens of people from Myanmar's beleaguered Rohingya Muslim minority seeking refuge in the country. (AP Photo/Assadawuth Suden)

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s navy chief says authorities have detained a boat carrying 56 people believed to be Muslim Rohingya refugees who fled from Myanmar.

Adm. Ahmad Kamarulzaman Ahmad Badaruddin says the boat was intercepted after it entered Malaysian waters and is now at the northern resort island of Langkawi.

He said Tuesday that all 56 passengers, mostly children and women, were safe but tired and hungry, and were given food and water. The naval chief said the boat and its passengers would be handed over to immigration authorities.

About 700,000 Rohingya have fled western Myanmar’s Rakhine state to neighboring Bangladesh in the past seven months to escape a brutal counterinsurgency campaign by Myanmar’s army. Rohingya, treated as undesirables in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar, used to flee by sea by the thousands each year.