YANGON, Myanmar – A crowded double-decker passenger ferry capsized in northwestern Myanmar after being slammed by huge waves, killing 33 people and leaving at least a dozen missing, officials said Saturday.
Rescuers pulled 167 survivors from the sea and brought them to safety after the Aung Tagun 3 went down near Myebon in Rakhine state late Friday, said Myanmar Red Cross Disaster Management chief Maung Maung Khin. He said many of the survivors were sent back to their homes.
Thirty-three people were confirmed dead and search and rescue teams were looking for about a dozen still missing, Maung Maung Khin said. Myanmar's Ministry of Information had reported earlier that around 50 passengers were missing, but the Rakhine state government said later that the exact numbers were unclear.
The government-run ferry left from the coastal town of Kyaukphyu at about 8:30 p.m. Friday. It had traveled around 80 kilometers (50 miles) northward when it hit rough seas, the government said.
Boat accidents due to overcrowding and bad weather are common in Myanmar's river deltas and coastal regions. People rely on boat transport because of the lower cost and the inaccessibility of many areas by road.