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Myanmar ferry captain charged over tragic accident

1 November 2016 14:45

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Last month, an overcrowded ferry sank in Myanmar’s Chindwin River, resulting in the deaths of 73 of its passengers. Now, police in the Southeast Asian country have brought a number of charges against its captain including manslaughter, causing shipwreck and abandoning the vessel while passengers were still aboard.

Zaw Myo Win has been accused of careless driving of a crammed ferry and causing death by negligence. The ferry was heading from the town of Homalin to the city of Monywa when the accident happened on October 17. Most of its passengers were university students, school teachers and doctors.

Four people were arrested right after the incident and were told that they would face legal action. But authorities continued hunting for the captain and the boat owner who fled the scene. The captain later turned himself in.

According to a regional lawmaker, the ferry had been laden with at least 300 passengers when it sank, exceeding its official capacity of 120. Rescuers managed to save the lives of only 159 people. Many others remain missing.

According to the police statement, the crimes are punishable by more than 10 years in prison.

Since so many people died in the tragic accident, the region is said to be facing a shortage of teachers and health workers.

Marine accidents are common in Myanmar, where many people rely on overcrowded boats for transfer.

Other deadly boat accidents in the past involved Rohingya Muslims who were fleeing widespread persecution and violence in the western Rakhine State.

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