Govt report blames drunk captain, crew, port authorities for Arakan ferry disaster

Govt report blames drunk captain, crew, port authorities for Arakan ferry disaster

An investigation commission formed by the Arakan State regional government to probe the deadly ferry boat disaster earlier this month has submitted a damning report alleging “serious negligence” on the part of the ship’s crew and port authorities.

Aung Myat Kyaw, an MP in the Arakan parliament, said the regional government’s Border and Security Affairs Minister Htin Linn presented the commission’s findings to the state assembly on 26 March.

“The [government] report concluded that regional-level officials should be punished for neglecting their duties, and I agree with that,” said Aung Myat Kyaw.

“However, the commission did not provide details of any children under 12 who died in the incident, which I see as an attempt to dodge accountability.”

The commission reported there were more than 180 passengers on the ferry boat when it sank off the coast of Myebon and that there were no children under the age of 12 on board.

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The report said several members of the crew, including the captain, were drunk at the time of the incident and they failed to alert the passengers, indicating they lacked the knowledge of which procedures to implement in such an emergency situation.

The government report said the Aung Takon 3 was last serviced in 2013 but was not maintained adequately. It noted that the ferry did not have emergency communications equipment on board.

The report added that port authorities failed to check the weight of the boat, which was overcrowded with passengers and overloaded with cargo.

The commission is to submit its final report by the end of March. Meanwhile, the Arakanese regional parliament has formed its owned investigation commission to probe the 13 March ferry boat disaster which cost dozens of lives.

The government previously reported that 61 bodies had been recovered as of 17 March, but the local MPs said the death toll could be higher.

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