RANGOON — A ferry shuttling students from Arakan State’s Gantgar to Poeshipyin village on the Tawphya River sank on Wednesday, killing seven students who were on board, according to local authorities.
Thein Shwe Maung, a police officer from Poeshipyin, said the students went schools in Poeshipyin.
He confirmed that the seven students’ bodies have already been discovered.
“We are still investigating the accident,” he said.
The police will take action against the boat operator, according to Wai Hin Aung from Wunlark Development Foundation, a civil society group based in the Arakan State capital of Sittwe .
The ferry was carrying 35 students who were on their way back from Poeshipyin village’s schools to their houses, according to Zar Zar Htay, a resident of Ponnagyun Township.
“Six girls and a boy were drowned. The six female students were in middle school and the male student was in high school,” she said.
All the passengers were from Gantgar village, which is a 2-hour ferry ride to the school in Poeshipyin village.
On Thursday, government officials from Arakan State, including the state’s spokesman Min Aung and Minister of Social Welfare for Arakan State Chan Thar, visited the site to give the families of the victims 600,000 kyats (US$500). The families asked the delegation to build a middle school in the their villages so their children would not have such long commutes to school.
Wunlark Development Foundation also provided the families 100,000 kyats each.
A government-run ferry capsized during a voyage from Taungup to Sittwe in Arakan State last year, a few hours after leaving the port town of Kyaukphyu, killing more than 60 people. Between 250 and 350 people were believed to have been traveling on the ferry at the time of its sinking.