Indonesia to expel 77 boat people from Myanmar

Indonesia will expel 77 boat people from Myanmar who ran aground on an Indonesian island while trying to get to Malaysia in search of jobs, an immigration official said Wednesday.

The men were stranded Tuesday on Weh island in Indonesia's Aceh province and were being questioned there, local immigration office spokesman Nazir Ali said, adding that they would be returned to international waters when the weather improves.

"They are looking for jobs in Malaysia but stranded here. Therefore we will expel them because they have no proper documents," Ali said. "We will coordinate with the navy to escort them to the international border."

Indonesian authorities will supply the men with fuel, water and food before towing them back out to sea, Ali said. Rough seas and strong winds had prevented their immediate departure, he said.

The migrants were being sheltered at navy base on the island's port city of Sabang and were said to be in good health. The navy will escort them into international waters, said Col. Aswoto Saranang of the Sabang base.

Saranang described them as uneducated villagers between 20 and 35 years old who left military-led Myanmar in search of new livelihoods in northern Malaysia's Penang state, reports the AP.

I.L.