A crowded ferry has capsized in northwestern Myanmar after being slammed by huge waves, killing at least 21 people with nearly 50 others missing.

The government says rescuers pulled 167 people from the sea and brought them to safety.

The Ministry of Information says the Aung Tagun 3 went down near Myebon in Rakhine state late Friday.

With 47 people still unaccounted for, search and rescue teams are scouring the waters for survivors.

They are being aided by Myanmar's navy.