Singapore has turned away a ship carrying 40 people rescued off Myanmar, port officials said yesterday, amid media reports the passengers could be stateless Muslim Rohingya.
The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) said it denied entry to the Vietnamese-registered bulk carrier Nosco Victory because of a lack of information about its passengers.
The authority said it had received a "pre-arrival notification" that a vessel which rescued 40 people from the sea off Myanmar wanted to enter Singapore.
In co-ordination with the MPA, India's Maritime Rescue and Co-ordination Centre in Port Blair, Andaman Islands, advised the ship's captain to "proceed to the nearest place of safety to disembark the rescued persons".
However the captain insisted on proceeding to Singapore, which was at least three days away, the MPA added.
"Information provided by the vessel's master concerning the rescued persons is sketchy ... but they do not appear to be persons eligible to enter Singapore," the MPA said.
Australia's Sydney Morning Herald said the 40 were believed to be Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar's western state of Rakhine fleeing ethnic violence there.
Clashes between Buddhists and the Rohingya have left scores of people dead and displaced more than 115,000 people since June.
According to the Herald, the 40 were believed to have been in the water for 30 hours before they were rescued on December 5.
It said they are survivors from a Bangladesh-flagged ship the Nayou that sank on December 4. Up to 160 Rohingya aboard the Nayou are believed to have drowned, the newspaper said.