04/10/2008, 00.00
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54 Burmese illegal migrants suffocate in container

The freezer truck, with 101 illegal migrants aboard, was bringing them to Thailand. The driver, who fled police, failed to turn the ventilation on. Each year thousands from Myanmar risk their lives in search of work.

Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) – 54 illegal migrants suffocated to death in the back of a freezer truck as they attempted to cross the border with Thailand.  The tuck was headed for Phuket, the well known Thai tourist area.  The vehicle was transporting a total of 101 people in a space no larger than 6x2 meters. Over twenty survivors are currently being treated in hospital.  The others are under arrest.  The migrants themselves raised the alarm.  According to police in Ranong, where the incident occurred, the driver who fled the scene had failed to turn the truck ventilation system on.

Thailand acts as a magnet for poor Burmese workers, with thousands risking the often perilous journey there. The journey across the border is very dangerous, nonetheless thousands risk their lives each year in order to flee the misery of their home nation. There are thought to be up to two million Burmese workers in Thailand, more than half of whom are in the country illegally. They fill the low-paid, often dangerous jobs in sectors that Thai workers do not want. But these jobs offer the migrants salaries that far exceed what they could earn in Myanmar, one of the region's most impoverished nations.


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