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More than 60 feared dead

Cox’s Bazar: More than 60 Rohingya refugees are feared dead after a boat carrying them from Myanmar capsized, leaving distraught relatives to hold burials in squalid Bangladesh camps which the Red Cross says are tipping into a health crisis.
Half a million Rohingya have crushed into camps in Bangladesh in just over a month, fleeing a Myanmar army campaign and communal violence that the UN describes as “ethnic cleansing”.
They have poured over on foot or crossed the Naf river which bisects the two countries in overcrowded boats.
One of them capsized in rough waters on Thursday agonisingly close to the shore.
The bodies of 23 people have been retrieved from the water so far but the death toll is expected to surge to around 60.
“Forty are missing and presumed drowned,” IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters in Geneva.
In distressing scenes, refugees yesterday held funerals for loved ones – among them children – who had left to seek sanctuary from violence that has cut through their homeland in Rakhine state.
A woman carried a small white bundle to a grave for a Muslim burial, while male relatives wept at a school building where bodies had been laid out.
“My wife and two boys survived, but I lost my three daughters,” Shona Miah, 32, said.
Those who have made it to Bangladesh have been squeezed into a vast makeshift refugee settlement.
Medical staff say the camps are in imminent danger of disease outbreak, as relief groups are overwhelmed by the numbers of hungry and traumatised Rohingya.
A dire shortage of clean water, toilets and sanitation is spreading disease and pushing the camps to the precipice of a health disaster, the Red Cross warned.
“Our mobile clinics are treating more people, especially children, who are very sick from diarrhoeal diseases which are a direct result of the terrible sanitation conditions,” said Mozharul Huq, Secretary-General of the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society.
In some of the camps hundreds of refugees are sharing a single toilet, said Martin Faller, of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
“The conditions for an outbreak of disease are all present – we have to act now and we have to act at scale,”
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