Nearly 50 were believed to be the victims who drowned off Myanmar when a ferry sank in bad weather conditions, government officials commented on Saturday.
Myanmar residents, however, have said that they believe there were more casualties from the overcrowded ferry boat. The vessel was identified as being the government-owned Aung Tagun-3.
Reportedly there were 209 people on board the vessel when it ran into high seas on late Friday during a trip from the coastal town of Taunggok en route to Sittwe, the west coast state of Rakhine’s capital, officials stated.
“We have managed to find 20 bodies but 27 are for now still missing. The appointed rescue teams are thoroughly looking for them,” Pyay Nyein, Inland Water Transport Department senior official, commented for Reuters.
An official of the Ministry of Transport stated that the ferry was swamped by huge waves which resulted in it sinking and that the rescue teams have managed to save 167 people, though all other missing passengers were believed to be dead.
Residents in Taunggok, from where the vessel embarked, commented that they believe the toll of the incident to be higher as the boat would have been crowded with a large number of unregistered passengers.
“Usually it’s a given that the number of tickets sold does not correlate to the number of passengers onboard. It is actually a common practice,” according to a Taunggok merchant who declined to identify himself.
“So the missing people’s number must be over 27. We unfortunately realize that our chances of finding them in this terrible weather are quite slim.”
Marine accidents in Myanmar are a common sight due to many people having to rely on small, crowded and old boats for means of transportation.