Water Festival Crimes, Accidents Leave 16 Dead, 356 Injured

By San Yamin Aung 20 April 2015

RANGOON — Police said a total of 16 people died and 356 others were injured because of traffic accidents and crimes during last week’s Thingyan celebrations, which saw millions of people across the country welcome in the Burmese New Year with street parties, ceremonies and water-throwing.

The Myanmar Police Force said on its Facebook page that deaths and injuries occurred in 11 of Burma’s 14 states and divisions during the April 13-16 celebrations, with most accidents and crimes taking place in Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city.

Nine people died during traffic accidents, two people were murdered and five others died during other types of accidents, according to the police. The force recorded 174 criminal cases across the country during the festival, including numerous cases of theft, robbery and assault, some 70 cases of which occurred in Rangoon.

During the 2014 Water Festival, police recorded 15 deaths and 194 criminal cases nationwide.

Lt-Col. Win Kyi from Rangoon’s Western District said the number of crimes and accidents in the city was down from last year’s Thingyan festivities.

“We did a lot of preparations in advance to curb crime during the festival. So, the number criminal cases this year in Rangoon are much lower than last year,” Win Kyi said, though he was unable to provide figures on the number of crimes and accidents that occurred during Thingyan last year.

Aung Myo Oo, who oversees the emergency center of the Free Funeral Services Society, said the local charity had kept three ambulances on standby in the city during the festival and these had transported 27 patients, including four foreigners, to Rangoon General Hospital’s Emergency Ward.

“Most were injured during traffic accidents and fighting. Among the patients, 12 people were injured during fighting,” he said.