Myanmar: At least 20 wedding guests killed after boat sinks in Pathein river, many still missing

Authorities say the boat was believed to be carrying between 60 and 80 people when it sank.

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Injured tourists are seen on stretchers after a boat accident Reuters (Representational Image)

At least 20 people died after a boat carrying scores of wedding guests collided with a river barge in western Myanmar, authorities said on Saturday. The rescue workers have renewed their search in daylight after rescuing some 30 people alive. They fear more people to be drowned.

The officials said the boat sank on Friday evening on a river in Pathein, a port city west of the commercial capital Yangon. Most of the victims are believed to be women.

"Altogether 16 women and four men were killed in the boat accident," regional MP Aung Thu Htwe told AFP on Saturday morning. "We estimate nine people are still missing," he added.

According to state media and a local police officer, who requested anonymity, the boat was believed to be carrying between 60 and 80 people when it sank.

"They were crossing to the other side of the river after attending a wedding in Pathein. Most of them were relatives from the same village," the police officer said. He also added that both boats were unlit when they collided in the middle of the river.

Several photos that were circulated in local media showed rescuers working in the darkness on Friday night to lay the bodies of the dead onshore.

On Saturday morning, the local authorities and red cross workers resumed the search operation. The police officer said: "We will do search and rescue for the whole day."

Fatal boat accidents are quite common in Myanmar, where many people live along its flood-prone rivers rely on often overcrowded ferries for transport. It often takes several days before all of the bodies are retrieved.

At least 21 people, including nine children, were killed after their boat sank off the coast of Myanmar's western state of Rakhine in April 2016. Again in October, nearly 73 people, including many teachers and students, died after a packed vessel capsized in central Myanmar on the Chindwin River.

In March 2015, around 60 people died when their ferry sank in the same treacherous waters off of Rakhine.