21 dead, 26 missing after Myanmar ferry sinks: Police

Yangon: A passenger ferry carrying more than 200 people has sunk off the coast of western Myanmar leaving at least 21 dead and 26 missing, police said on Saturday.

The 'Aung Takon' went down yesterday after leaving the town of Kyaukphyu on its way to Sittwe in western Rakhine state. "We have got 21 dead bodies, 2 men and 19 women. About 26 passengers are still missing," a police officer in Sittwe town who requested anonymity told AFP. He added 167 people have been rescued, and that no foreigners were believed to be on board the doomed ship.

Three navy boats and a host of private vessels were sent to scour the area after news emerged that the ferry had gone down shortly after 8.30 pm (local time). "We suspect that the boat sank because it was overloaded with goods," the police officer said, adding that rescuers were still searching for survivors.

Many Myanmar citizens living along the impoverished nation's lengthy coastline and flood prone river systems rely heavily on poorly maintained ferries for transportation. Sinkings are not uncommon. Ten people were killed in 2010 when a ferry capsized in the Irrawaddy delta region, while 38 perished in 2008 when a ship went down in the Yway River.

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