KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s maritime agency on Tuesday said it “rescued” 40 Myanmar shipwreck survivors, who are thought to be Muslim Rohingya fleeing ethnic violence, who had been denied entry to Singapore. The agency told AFP the survivors of a wreck off the Myanmar coast on December 4, in which 160 others were reportedly drowned, were in good health and being transported to southern Johor state on one of its vessels. “I confirm 40 Myanmar nationals were rescued from the Vietnam-flagged cargo ship Nosco Victory,” Hamid Mohamad Amin, the agency’s director for command and control, told AFP, declining to elaborate.

Singapore had turned away the ship carrying the 40 survivors amid media reports they could be stateless Muslim Rohingya. Singapore’s 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. Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported the 40 were believed to be Rohingya, a stateless Muslim minority from Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine, who had been 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 were survivors from a Bangladesh-flagged ship that sank on its way to Malaysia, a largely Muslim country that has a big Rohingya population.