U.S. says lives must be saved urgently in Asia migrant crisis

Reuters News
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Posted: May 28, 2015 10:51 PM

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States said on Friday the thousands of migrants adrift in Southeast Asian seas needed urgent rescue, as countries gathered in Bangkok to discuss the regional crisis.

"We have to save lives urgently," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Anne Richard told reporters on her way into the meeting.

Thousands of migrants are adrift, abandoned by traffickers on overcrowded boats after a Thai crackdown made it too risky for them to continue using trafficking routes through Thailand.

The United States has asked Thailand to fly surveillance flights from Thai bases to identify boats carrying migrants, Richard said, but has yet to get the nod from Thai authorities. The U.S. is operating similar flights from Malaysia, she said.

(Reporting by Simon Webb and Juarawee Kittisilpa; Editing by Raju Gopalkrishnan and Alex Richardson)