32 bod­ies found in Myan­mar ferry dis­as­ter; toll mounts

A to­tal of 154 peo­ple res­cued

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

YAN­GON: Searchers have re­cov­ered 32 bod­ies after an over­loaded ferry sank in cen­tral Myan­mar and ex­pect to find dozens more dead, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day, as work­ers be­gan rais­ing the boat from the riverbed. A to­tal of 154 peo­ple were res­cued alive after the ferry sank early Satur­day on the Chind­win River, about 72 kilo­me­ters north of the city of Monywa. But res­cuers have found only bloated corpses float­ing in the wa­ter since then, and fear the toll could reach 100 once they raise the craft.

“So far we have re­cov­ered 32 dead bod­ies,” said Sa Willy Fri­ent, di­rec­tor of the lo­cal re­lief and re­set­tle­ment depart­ment who is over­see­ing the op­er­a­tion. “We are try­ing to raise the boat us­ing a crane after ty­ing it with strong ropes. After we lift it out, the death toll will be higher.” Sa Willy Fri­ent es­ti­mated 240-250 peo­ple-around 100 more than its ca­pac­ity-were on the boat, along with heavy cargo.

Survivor Hnin Lei Yee, a 27-year-old school­teacher, was trav­el­ling with her hus­band and one-year-old daugh­ter to cel­e­brate the Bud­dhist Thad­ingyut fes­ti­val with her fam­ily. Her baby was killed in the dis­as­ter. She still does not know her hus­band’s fate. “It hap­pened very fast,” she told AFP. “The win­dow was open so I had a chance to get out of the boat.” “I can­not swim so I had to hold on to a plas­tic float and fi­nally the res­cue boat came to save my life. ”“In the morn­ing, I heard there was a dead child in the hos­pi­tal and I went there. I saw my daugh­ter dead,” she said, weep­ing. Some 30 teach­ers were thought to be among the pas­sen­gers, along with dozens of stu­dents from Monywa univer­sity and work­ers head­ing home for Thad­ingyut.

Four ar­rested

“I am re­ally so sorry,” said Sai Khaing Myo Tun, vice pres­i­dent of Myan­mar’s teach­ers’ fed­er­a­tion. “This in­ci­dent has ter­ri­fied us very much.” “The teach­ers of­ten have to use such un­safe trans­porta­tion, es­pe­cially when they (come to) get their monthly salary.” Four of the boat’s staff have been ar­rested and will face le­gal ac­tion. Au­thor­i­ties are still hunt­ing for one crew mem­ber and the ferry’s owner.

Lo­cal law­maker Sh­win Htay said peo­ple were dev­as­tated by the scale of the dis­as­ter as he called for the boat op­er­a­tors to face jus­tice. “I have never known of a boat sink­ing where so many peo­ple have died in this area,” he said. Boat ac­ci­dents are com­mon in Myan­mar. Peo­ple liv­ing along the na­tion’s long coast­line and flood-prone river sys­tems rely heav­ily on of­ten over­crowded fer­ries for trans­port. At least 21 peo­ple, in­clud­ing nine chil­dren, died in April after a boat cap­sized off the coast of Myan­mar’s west­ern state of Rakhine. In March last year at least 52 peo­ple lost their lives off the west coast when an over­loaded ferry sank in rough wa­ters.


MONYWA, Myan­mar: Gov­ern­ment res­cue per­son­nel from the Myan­mar Fire Ser­vices Depart­ment trans­port a vic­tim’s body dur­ing a search op­er­a­tion after a ferry cap­sized on the Chind­win River near Monywa city in Sa­gaing re­gion.

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