REFUGEES: Barring the Boat People

A disaster points up the plight of Viet Nam's seaborne escapees

The frail fishing boat, packed with some 250 men, women and children fleeing Viet Nam, arrived off the east coast of Malaysia early last week. When it tried to dock at Pulau Bidong, an island that holds Malaysia's largest camp of Vietnamese refugees, police prevented the landing. The craft headed for the mainland, but villagers waded into the water and pushed the vessel away from the shore. In desperation, the refugees attempted to negotiate turbulent waters into the mouth of the Trengganu River. Catastrophe struck. The boat hit a sand...

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