Investigators in southern Thailand have discovered five graves at a second remote jungle camp believed to contain the remains of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, police said Tuesday.
The camp was uncovered just a kilometre from a similar encampment on a steep hillside near the Malaysian border, where forensic teams found 26 bodies over the weekend -- all but one buried in shallow graves.
"We found the second camp yesterday evening," national police spokesman Prawut Thavornsiri told reporters, saying it was near the first camp 25 kilometres (16 miles) west of Padang Besar in Songkhla province.
"We also found five graves but cannot yet confirm whether any bodies are in them. Authorities will look into this," he added.
Rights groups have long accused the Thai authorities of turning a blind eye to -- and even being complicit in -- human trafficking.
Stung by that notorious reputation, Thailand's military government has launched a crackdown in recent months, arresting scores of officials.
But the grim discovery of bodies in various stages of decay has vividly illustrated the enormous dangers faced by desperate migrants trying to flee persecution or poverty.
Each year tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar and Bangladesh make the dangerous sea crossing to southern Thailand, a well-worn trafficking route. They are often headed south to Malaysia and beyond.
But Thailand's southern border region contains a network of secret camps where smuggled migrants are held, usually against their will, until relatives pay hefty ransoms.