The Irrawaddy

 Crime Down but Fatalities Up During Thingyan Water Festival, Police Say

Official death toll put at 26 nationwide, but media, hospitals report higher numbers.

MANDALAY — A total of 109 crimes claimed 26 lives during the Thingyan water festival and Burmese New Year celebrations across the country, police said Wednesday.

Incidents including drunkenness, fights, accidents and drowning were reported to police during the period.

While crime as a whole was down from last year’s New Year period, the number of fatalities rose, police said. In 2017, 208 crimes were reported, claiming 16 lives and injuring 194 people.

The number of injuries and deaths reported by police was lower than the numbers reported in local media, however.

In a separate report, Yangon Region police reported nine crimes resulting in four deaths and 17 injuries. Police said another 301 people injured in motor accidents and fights were admitted to hospitals in Yangon Region.

In Monywa, Sagaing Division, where New Year celebrations were held along the banks of the Chindwin River for the first time, three people drowned in the river and four people were killed in motorcycle accidents. More than 160 people were treated for injuries at Monywa Hospital.

More than 600 people were admitted to Mandalay General Hospital, most of them due to motorcycle accidents. According to officials at the hospital, eight unidentified bodies were received, along with six people who died due to accidents and drowning in the old moat at Mandalay Palace.

Official Mandalay police reports, however, list six fatalities during the holiday period: two drownings in the moat, two homicides and two motor accident deaths – along with 37 injuries sustained in fights and accidents.

“Every year there is a discrepancy between the numbers announced by the police and the hospital, because most people do not report incidents to the police. The police can only compile their report based on those incidents that are reported to them,” said Ko One, a leader of Mandalay-based One-to-One, a charity group that cooperates with Mandalay General Hospital to assist people injured during the New Year celebration.