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Chindwin ferry capsizes in whirlpool, 12 feared dead

Rescue efforts on the Chindwin, 1 November 2015. (PHOTO: Ko Toe Gyi)

At least four people have been confirmed dead and up to eight others are missing after a ferry capsized close to a whirlpool on the Chindwin River in northern Burma early on Sunday morning.

According to an official at the Sagaing Private Vessels Supervisory Committee, the boat Yazar Tun, operated by Myanmar Zabutun Transportation Services, capsized around 5:30am on 1 November after crashing into a rock at Kalama promontory, close to the village of Gazet. The boat, which was headed to the town of Homalin further north on the Chindwin, had departed from Monywa in Sagaing Division on the afternoon on 31 October.

While the exact number of passengers cannot yet be confirmed, sources at the port in Monywa said some 85 passengers boarded the vessel there and 35 more at Kalewa.

The Chindwin River is notorious for its whirlpools and narrow gorges.

Police in the closest town to the disaster, Kalemyo, told DVB that the bodies of four females were recovered, while eight other passengers were still missing.

According to the state-run English-language newspaper Global New Light of Myanmar on Monday, six passengers have been confirmed dead and six unaccounted for, while 53 were rescued from the water. Local authorities and army battalions are continuing rescue efforts.