Burmese rescued from sinking ship survived on human flesh

19 February 2013 - 17:26 By Sapa-dpa
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

At least some of a group of 32 Burmese nationals stranded at sea without food for more than three weeks survived by eating human flesh, a Sri Lankan monk who acted as the refugees' interpreter said Tuesday.

The 32 men were rescued Sunday from a sinking ship by the Sri Lankan navy.

"They had been in sea for two months, but had exhausted the food and water after five weeks," said Buddhist monk Maligawila Assaji, who had learned Burmese from having lived in that country for several years. "Part of their food had been stolen by persons who forcibly entered their boat," he said.

The men claimed that they had thrown into the sea the bodies of as many as 98 of their fellow travellers who died of starvation and sickness.

They said they had been heading by sea to Australia illegally when the engine of the old wooden craft stalled.

The Burmese, rescued off the eastern coast of Sri Lanka on Sunday, were brought ashore and admitted to hospital in the southern coastal town of Galle mainly for treatment for dehydration.

Twenty-four of those rescued still remain in hospital.

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