Af­ter dis­as­ter, cap­tain turns him­self in to po­lice

The cap­tain of the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry, which killed at least 73 peo­ple when it sank last month, gave him­self over to au­thor­i­ties yes­ter­day, and faces mur­der charges.

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - MAUNG ZAW maungzaw@mm­times.com

THE cap­tain of the Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry, which sank ear­lier this month in a dis­as­ter that led to dozens of deaths, has handed him­self in to po­lice, ac­cord­ing to the Sa­gaing Re­gion sta­tion.

“[The ferry’s cap­tain] came to the po­lice sta­tion and was arrested on Oc­to­ber 28. The ves­sel sank in the Yin Mar Pin dis­trict [of Kani town­ship] so we have trans­ferred him to the po­lice sta­tion there,” said a po­lice of­fi­cial who de­clined to be named as he lacked au­thor­ity to speak to the me­dia.

On Oc­to­ber 15, the mas­sively over­loaded Aung Soe Moe Kyaw 2 ferry cap­sized on its jour­ney be­tween Ho­ma­lin and Monywa af­ter it is thought to have hit a rock.

Ap­prox­i­mately 230 peo­ple were on board at the time of the ac­ci­dent, though the ferry was only li­censed to carry 36 pas­sen­gers. Many on­board were teach­ers and stu­dents on their way home for the Thad­ingyut hol­i­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the most re­cent fig­ures from the Sa­gaing re­gional gov­ern­ment, 73 peo­ple died in the dis­as­ter with an­other seven still miss­ing.

The ferry’s cap­tain has been charged with rash han­dling of a ves­sel and neg­li­gent homi­cide un­der sec­tions 280 and 304(a) of the pe­nal code by po­lice in Kani town­ship.

“We are in­ter­ro­gat­ing him now. We will ar­rest all those re­spon­si­ble for the dis­as­ter and try them in a court of law,” said a po­lice cap­tain from Kani town­ship.

Four other mem­bers of the ferry’s crew have so far been arrested by po­lice in con­nec­tion with the tragedy.

Ma Mi Mi Aung, a sur­vivor from the ferry dis­as­ter, yes­ter­day told The Myan­mar Times she was re­lieved that the cap­tain had come for­ward.

“He ran away for a while as he was afraid of ret­ri­bu­tion. Peo­ple died be­cause of him. We are sat­is­fied that he pre­sented him­self for ar­rest when he pos­sessed a sound mind again. But we have to wait and see how the case is pros­e­cuted and un­der what codes,” she said. “This can­not just be treated like an ac­ci­dent: It is a mur­der case through neg­li­gence of those who had the au­thor­ity to prop­erly su­per­vise the ferry.”

Ferry accidents have be­come an all-too-com­mon dis­as­ter in the coun­try, with res­i­dents de­mand­ing an over­haul of the wa­ter trans­port net­work and its safety pro­to­cols in the wake of the most re­cent deadly in­ci­dent. Man­dalay res­i­dents have blamed the In­land Wa­ter Trans­port depart­ment for fail­ing to prop­erly scru­ti­nise the sunken ferry’s li­cence and to check its ca­pac­ity.

Sa­gaing Re­gion’s Min­is­ter for Elec­tric­ity, In­dus­try and Trans­porta­tion U Than Nyunt Win con­firmed that the ferry did not have the ap­pro­pri­ate li­cence to carry as many pas­sen­gers as it did, nor to op­er­ate the route it did.

But sur­vivors and the fam­ily mem­bers of the vic­tims say more must be done to avert an­other tragedy.

“They need to be reg­u­larly test­ing the ves­sels in op­er­a­tion. They did not run any tests and many peo­ple died,” said Ma Khine Zin Kyaw, a sur­vivor of the dis­as­ter from Kalay. “We want the gov­ern­ment to ap­point peo­ple who will re­ally work hard to en­sure the ves­sels meet reg­u­la­tions and will work to en­force the law. From my perspective, the gov­ern­ment is most re­spon­si­ble for this case be­cause they know­ingly al­lowed this ferry to con­tinue run­ning with­out a li­cence for one year.”

Min­is­ter U Than Nyunt Win has an­nounced that K2.2 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion will be paid to the fam­i­lies of each per­son who per­ished in the ac­ci­dent. This amount is made up of con­tri­bu­tions from the na­tional gov­ern­ment, the re­gional gov­ern­ment, ves­sel as­so­ci­a­tions and life in­surance providers.

But some have said the amount promised is not enough.

“A soul of per­son can­not be counted with money. Now, the com­pen­sa­tion is very lit­tle. Many teach­ers died. The fam­i­lies re­ly­ing on the salary of the teach­ers will not have enough to live on with this com­pen­sa­tion. The gov­ern­ment should at least pro­vide enough to sup­port the de­pen­dents of the de­ceased,” said Daw Thit Thit Phyo, an­other sur­vivor.

The gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ously pledged that all those with a share of cul­pa­bil­ity for the dis­as­ter, in­clud­ing pub­lic of­fi­cials, will be called to ac­count.

– Trans­la­tion by Khine Thazin Han

Photo: AFP

Res­cue work­ers try to dredge out the sunken ferry from the Chind­win River on Oc­to­ber 18.

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