Port authorities have detained an Egyptian cargo vessel and arrested 20 people on board for suspected human trafficking, officials said Wednesday.
The owner of a local shipping agency, Abdul Malek, representing the detained Saint Vincent-flagged ship "MV Samara" was also arrested in an overnight police sweep just before it was due to sail for Yangon, they said.
Chittagong Port's director for seamen immigration, Kamal Uddin, told AFP 20 Bangladeshis were taken on board the ship shortly before it was due to sail raising suspicions they were being illegally trafficked.
Malek reportedly denied the allegations and claimed the 20 were recruited locally to help crew the ship.
Police Wednesday brought the 21 before a court and launched an investigation. The Indian captain of the ship, identified only as Rajendra, was also being questioned.
Port sources said there could have been more Bangladeshis on board who managed to escape before police raided the ship late Tuesday.
The Samara arrived in Chittagong early last month carrying steel coil from India.
The arrests coincided with the recovery of eight bodies off Turkey's Mediterranean coast after a cargo ship packed with illegal immigrants broke up in a storm. One Bangladeshi man was plucked from the water after surviving for 30 hours.
Up to 50 immigrants, believed to be mainly from South Asia, are still missing after the cargo ship with Georgian registration hit rocks Monday and broke into two off Kemer -- CHITTAGONG, Bangladesh (AFP)
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