At least 20 fishermen from Irrawaddy division’s Bogale and Pyapon townships are missing in the Bay of Bengal after getting caught in swirling winds caused by Cyclone Phailin.
According to Bogale resident Aung Ko Latt, the total number of fishermen missing at sea is difficult to estimate as no one maintains comprehensive records of which fishing boats and how many crew depart from the delta’s ports.
He said the reason data is not collected is because of a simmering dispute between the local fishery administrations and the labour department, though he added that the fishery operators have launched their own rescue mission to find the missing men.
He claimed that the operators neglected storm warnings by delta authorities cautioning them about allowing fishing vessels to sail in the Bay of Bengal over the weekend.
Nu Nu Htwe, a family member of one of the missing fisherman, said, “We heard the boats had sunk in a storm. The operator said my [loved one] survived, but then he wouldn’t let us talk to him. We don’t really know what to do.”
She said that each vessel carried about 30 to 40 fishermen.