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Death toll rises in Chindwin ferry accident

Army and fire department personnel examine the wreckage of the ferry boat Aung Soe Moe Kyaw on 19 October 2016. (Photo: Win Zaw Khaing / Facebook)

At least 50 people were confirmed dead on Wednesday in a ferry accident on the Chindwin River four days ago, as local officials and rescue workers continue their efforts to recover the wreckage and the bodies of victims from the bottom of the river.

Ferry boat Aung Soe Moe Kyaw, en route to Monywa from Homalin, was carrying more than 300 people, including many government school teachers going back to their home villages for the Thadingyut Buddhist holidays, when it capsized near the town of Kani on 15 October. Around 160 passengers survived the incident but the rest remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.

Tun Tun Win, an MP representing Kani in the Sagaing regional parliament, told DVB on Wednesday that 50 bodies have been found so far.

“There were 45 bodies found in Kani and five others washed up on the shore in Yesagyo town, so currently the number is 50 in total,” said Tun Tun Win.

He said 38 badly decomposing bodies were cremated on Tuesday on the banks of the river after police took photos of the remains and their personal belongings for later identification. A Buddhist funeral for the victims was held at the Buddhist monastery in Michaungdwin, a village close to where the incident took place.

The regional education office announced around 30 government teachers were among the dead.

A passenger who survived the incident said most passengers on the boat were asleep when it started sinking around 5am on the morning on 15 October. Survivors and family members of the victims have called for an official investigation to bring those responsible for the incident to justice.