72 confirmed dead in Myanmar ferry incident

72 confirmed dead in Myanmar ferry incident
Authorities have confirmed that at least 72 people died when an overloaded ferry sunk in Myanmar's central region.

The 40-ton Aung Soe Moe Kyaw -- which may have been carrying around 300 passengers when it sank Saturday -- was finally brought to the surface of the muddy Chindwin River in Sagaing on Thursday.

Although 154 passengers have been rescued, the full death toll may never be known, however, as many more bodies are thought to have floated off downriver.

Regional lawmaker Tun Tun Win told Anadolu Agency by phone that of the 72 bodies retrieved from the vessel by Thursday, "53 were women”.

"There is nothing further rescue workers can do,” he said, adding that it was now up to government departments to take the necessary measures in order to avoid further accidents.
Preliminary reports have indicated that the overloaded ferry -- carrying university students, teachers and civil servants travelling home for a religious festival -- may have hit a rock as it approached a village.

According to local media, the boat was overloaded when it left Homalin for Monywa town, about 130 kilometers (80.7 miles) west of Mandalay, the second largest city in Myanmar.

Police have said that although 154 passengers have been rescued, there may have been as many as 300 aboard -- far above the authorized limit.

On Thursday, Moe Pyay Pyay Aung, a survivor from the sinking, claimed to Anadolu Agency that the accident was due to the stupidity of the crews.

"We told them not to take more passengers as the boat was already overloaded,” she said, adding that her aunt was one of those who died.

"But they did not listen. So what has happened? They killed my aunty."

Four crew have been detained, and an arrest warrant has been issued for the boat's owner and manager.

Boat accidents are common in Myanmar, where people living along the nation's long coastline and flood-prone river systems rely heavily on often-overcrowded ferries for transport.