RANGOON—Rescuers have recovered at least 29 bodies after a ferry carrying some 300 passengers capsized on the Chindwin River in Sagaing Division’s Kani Township on Saturday, the township General Administration Department (GAD) said on Monday.
The privately owned Aung Soe Moe Kyaw-2 ferry, transporting passengers from Homalin to Monywa, reportedly sank in the river near Michaung Dwin village early on Saturday morning, according to the local emergency rescue team.
A total of 159 survivors have been found and were provided temporary shelter at hospitals and monasteries near the village, a GAD official at the location of the rescue operation told The Irrawaddy on Monday.
Of those killed, 23 were women and six were men; the death toll of the accident is expected to climb, the official said.
Lower House lawmaker U Tun Tun Naing of Kani Township said that the accident was allegedly “the result of negligence” of the helmsman. He added that the helmsman and the owner of the overcrowded ferry both went missing after the incident.
S Willy Frient, Director of the Sagaing Division’s Relief and Resettlement Department said that the ferry was found on Monday and that the rescue team was trying to salvage it.
The ferry was carrying close to 300 passengers and 18 motorcycles while the maximum capacity of the ferry is between 120 and 150 passengers, according to the director. “It was filled way beyond its capacity,” he told The Irrawaddy.
“It is believed that the ferry had life jackets but these were only sufficient to cover one-tenth of the total passengers it was carrying,” he added.
He also noted that ferry owners usually travel with their boats and that they fill ferries beyond capacity to earn more money.
The Irrawaddy tried reaching officials from Sagaing Division’s Department of Marine Administration who were at the location of the rescue operation on Monday, but they were not available to comment.
Correction: This article has been modified from an earlier version that incorrectly designated the Department of Marine Administration as the Inland Water Transport Department