PATHEIN — Thirty-six fishermen are still missing in Irrawaddy Region’s Pyapon Township one week after a strong gale blew about 80 rafts with more than 200 fishermen out to sea.
“Fisheries Department officials, fishery businesspeople, and police are searching for them together,” Police Lt-Col Khin Maung Latt of the Irrawaddy Region Police Force told The Irrawaddy.
More than 80 rafts with 258 fishermen aboard who were fishing some 22 nautical miles from Pyapon Township were swept out to the sea by strong winds on Dec. 21 and search and rescue teams had recovered 222 fishermen and 57 rafts as of Wednesday. Sixteen other rafts were found damaged and 13 are still missing, according to the regional police.
According to local villagers, strong gales do not usually blow at this time in the delta and as a result, fishermen were caught off guard.
“But these days, the wind is blowing onshore. So, we hope they will be blown toward the shore by the wind,” said U Kyaw Swar, a local of Kha Pyat village in Pyapon Township.
Usually, three fishermen work a raft and are supervised by a senior fisherman who has wide navigation experience and knows the currents well. It is not unusual for fishing rafts to be blown out to sea in stormy weather, said locals.
In March 2011, a strong gale blew more than 10,000 fishermen from Yangon’s Kawhmu and Kungyangon townships, and Irrawaddy’s Pyapon and Dedaye townships out to sea, and most of them returned unharmed.
In November 2014, the Myanmar Navy and passenger vessels came across and rescued more than 200 gale-hit fishing rafts in Pyapon District.
Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.