Myanmar to inspect all state-owned boats after ferry sinking that killed at least 61

YANGON (AFP) - Myanmar will inspect all state-owned vessels after a ferry accident off the country's western Rakhine state that left at least 61 people dead, state media said on Wednesday.

The boat, which was carrying more than 200 passengers and crew, was "overloaded when it capsized" on Friday evening, said transport minister Nyan Tun Aung, according to the Global New Light of Myanmar.

A commission has been formed to check other boats plying the country's many waterways, the report said, adding that the death toll from the ferry disaster had risen to 61 as the search continues for the missing.

The "Aung Takon 3" sank in an area notorious for treacherous waters after leaving the coastal town of Kyaukphyu on its way to the Rakhine state capital Sittwe.

Many Myanmar citizens living along the country's lengthy coastline and flood-prone river systems rely on poorly maintained ferries for transportation.

Rakhine state has also become the departure point for thousands of desperate Muslim Rohingya, who crowd onto small and dangerously overcrowded boats to escape persecution, often aiming for Thailand and Malaysia.