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One crew member is missing and presumed dead after a boat carrying aid was sucked into a whirlpool near Minbya in Arakan State on Friday, according to local sources.
Aung Win, an administrative official in the village of Kalamataung, said a fleet of four boats was delivering relief materials from the main town to outlying villages along the Minbya River when one got caught in a whirlpool under heavy weather, and capsized around 3pm on 15 July.
“We were returning to the village on four boats carrying sacks of rice from Minbya which were provided as humanitarian relief, he said. “It was raining heavily and the current was strong. I saw whirlpools in the river and shouted to everyone to get ashore.
“As we attempted to reach shore, one of the boats hit a rock and got sucked back into a whirlpool. Four of the five people on board survived but one is still missing.”
He said Minbya township police and local volunteers conducted a painstaking effort to find the missing person, identified as 36-year-old Tin Win of Kalamataung village, but to no avail.
The boat that capsized was reportedly carrying 50 sacks of rice, 17 sacks of beans, and 15 bottles of cooking oil.
Minbya is one of several coastal towns in western Burma that has been affected by flash floods and monsoonal rains this month. Last week, DVB reported that up to 170 people were left homeless after a whirlwind wreaked havoc in their village near Minbya.
It was reported on 7 July that thousands of people in littoral areas of western Arakan State were seeking food, fresh water and shelter as monsoonal floodwaters continued to drive them from their homes.
Meanwhile, further north in Sagaing Division, ferry boat services resumed on the Chindwin River on Sunday after being suspended for a week due to flooding. Water levels on the Chindwin have now subsided.
In November, up to 12 persons died when a ferry boat capsized in a whirlpool on the Chindwin River near Monywa in Sagaing.