At least 20 wedding guests die in Myanmar boat crash

Police yesterday taking a victim's body to Pathein General Hospital. The boat was carrying 60 wedding guests when it hit a cargo ship and capsized in the river.
Police yesterday taking a victim's body to Pathein General Hospital. The boat was carrying 60 wedding guests when it hit a cargo ship and capsized in the river.PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON • At least 20 people died and about a dozen were missing after a wooden boat carrying about 60 wedding guests hit a cargo ship and sank in south- western Myanmar, local officials have said.

It was the third big marine accident in the country in as many years.

The boat, called Silver Star in Burmese, was unlit when it hit the cargo ship on the river in the city of Pathein at 7.20pm on Friday, they said.

It was believed to be carrying around 60 passengers on their way home from a wedding ceremony.

Twenty bodies have been found and 27 people have been rescued, Mr Kyaw Myint, a local government official, told Reuters from a hospital in Pathein.

Rescuers were still looking for more survivors, witnesses said.

Local media photos showed frenzied scenes as rescuers worked in the dark on Friday night to wheel stretchers away from the river and lay bodies on shore.

Authorities resumed the search yesterday, the police officer said, but no bodies had been found by midday.

"The authorities at the port are looking into the cause of the crash," Mr Kyaw Myint said by telephone. The regional government would be helping to arrange the funerals, he added.

"It's a huge tragedy because there were a lot of women and children on the boat," Khin Zaw Lin, a parliamentarian for the ruling National League for Democracy party said by phone from the scene.

Marine accidents are common in Myanmar, where many people rely on crowded and dilapidated boats for transport. Seventy-three people died in a ferry accident in October last year, and 64 in an accident in March 2015.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline 'At least 20 wedding guests die in Myanmar boat crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe