At least 252 “starving” people who identified themselves as Bangladeshi were found in cramped conditions in two shops in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, an immigration official said Thursday.
The migrants were “were starving and making a commotion” when found in the provincial capital Medan on Wednesday, North Sumatra immigration chief Icon Siregar said.
It was not clear if the migrants had come to Indonesia legally or illegally, but told authorities they were looking for work in Malaysia.
He added that it was not clear how long they had been in the buildings.
“They may have come legally by boat and are waiting to be taken to Malaysia,” he said. “We are still looking for their travel documents.”
The migrants have been taken to an immigration detention centre in Medan.
In recent years, boats carrying members of the persecuted Rohingya community in Myanmar have become stranded on Sumatra on their way to a third country.
Since violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2012, tens of thousands of Rohingya have left the country by boat. Hundreds of thousands have fled across the border in the last 18 months to Bangladesh, where they are confined to camps.