Death toll from Burma ferry disaster rises

Nov 17, 2009 (DVB), More than fifty people are now feared dead after a passenger ferry in Burma's southern Irrawaddy division on Sunday collided with an oil barge.

Local officials told Reuters that 31 bodies have so far been recovered from the Ngawun river, while 21 were still missing. The boat is believed to have been carrying 178 passengers from.

"There is very little chance of finding those missing alive. Most of them are women and children," said an official in Bassein, capital of Irrawaddy, about 120 kilometers west of the former capital of Rangoon.

Witnesses told DVB yesterday that large whirlpools in the river had formed as the boat was sinking, and the current had been strong.

Rescue workers in the area are reportedly still search for the missing people, and the local Myanmar Red Cross Society (not affiliated with International Committee of the Red Cross) had set up an emergency aid centre at Bassein town hall.

Reporting by Francis Wade

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