Photos: Malaysia Begins Exhuming Mass Graves, Combing Through Suspected Trafficking Camps (Newsweek)

On Sunday, Malaysia’s home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced the discovery of mass graves and camps suspected to have been used for human trafficking near the country’s border with Thailand. The national police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, confirmed the news at a press conference on Monday: Authorities found 139 grave sites and 28 camps in the region. They originally estimated 100 dead but now expect the number to be significantly higher.

“[Authorities] found 139 suspected graves. They are not sure how many bodies are inside each grave,” Khalid said. “It’s a very sad scene.… To us even one is serious,” he said. “We are working closely with our counterparts in Thailand. We will find the people who did this.”

Although the bodies haven’t been identified, The Guardian reports that the region of jungle and rough terrain where the graves and camps were found is often used smuggle Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants to southeast Asia.

The discovery comes in the midst of a migrant crisis, with boats holding thousands of migrants fleeing Myanmar and Bangladesh. After initially turning away 7,000 migrants who had been stranded at sea for weeks, Malaysia and Indonesia agreed last week to take them in for temporary shelter. Though Thailand did not do the same, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said Monday that he had ordered the Thai navy to set up a floating command center and help those in medical need.

Malaysian police and a forensic team have begun the process of going through the camps and exhuming and studying the remains from the grave sites.

“We were shocked by the cruelty,” Khalid said, explaining that there were signs of torture in the camp sites. Officials believe some of the camps were inhabited until as recently as two weeks ago, judging by the food and cooking utensils found near them.