25 dead in Myanmar ferry disaster, toll may rise
Searchers have recovered 25 bodies from a ferry that sank in central Myanmar and expect to find scores more corpses as workers begin raising the boat from the riverbed, officials said on Monday.
A total of 154 people have been rescued since the boat sank early Saturday on the Chindwin River, 72 km (45 miles) north of the city of Monywa. Search teams, scouring the river, who are now securing the boat with ropes so it can be hauled out by a crane, fear the toll could go as high as 100.
“Now, we have found 25 dead bodies, but we are still trying to lift the boat out,” said Sa Willy Frient, director of the local relief and resettlement department, who is overseeing the operation.
Earlier, he said the ferry was carrying “mainly university students and schoolteachers” when it sank around 5:00 am on Saturday. “I think around 70 or 80 university students and about 30 schoolteachers, and also doctors,” he added.
The boat was carrying an estimated 240-250 people – around 100 more than its capacity – along with heavy cargo, including several motorbikes.
Four of the boat’s staff have been arrested and will face legal action, said Sa Willy Frient. Authorities are still hunting for one crew member and the ferry’s owner.
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. Boat accidents are common in Myanmar.