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Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:14 UK

Jail for Burmese lorry survivors

Emergency crews in Ranong, Thailand, 10/04
Survivors described the screams of the dying

A group of Burmese migrants who survived a container lorry journey that suffocated 54 others to death have been jailed in Thailand.

A Thai court found 50 of the migrants guilty of illegal entry and ruled they must serve a two-month prison sentence before being deported.

Fourteen children who also survived have been handed to Thai immigration authorities for repatriation to Burma.

Several survivors are being treated in hospital for dehydration.

Human traffickers were smuggling 121 people to the resort island of Phuket in southern Thailand when the lorry's ventilation failed.

The migrants began banging on the walls of the locked airtight container, which measured 6m by 2m.

The driver opened the doors of the vehicle at the Thai town of Ranong but fled on foot when he saw what had happened.

One survivor, Ko Ko Lah, told AP news agency: "It was horrible, I heard people screaming, shouting and banging on the walls until I passed out."

Many Burmese workers enter Thailand illegally in the hope of finding jobs in the fishing and construction industries, or as house maids.




SEE ALSO
Poverty driving Burmese workers east
10 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Life on the Burma-Thai border
26 Feb 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Burma
23 Jan 08 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Thailand
28 Feb 08 |  Country profiles

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