Twelve people, including three members of the security forces, are missing after a boat capsized and sank in a river in northwestern Myanmar’s Sagaing district, state media reported Thursday.
A report in the state-run Myanma Alinn Daily said six civilians, three workers and security force personnel were missing after the boat was caught on Tuesday morning by strong currents in the Chindwin River near Panset village in Kale district.
The report said the vessel was part of a cargo convoy that came from further north and that rescue operations were ongoing.
A village elder from Panset told The Associated Press that a group of 11 ships guarded by security forces had docked there Monday night and that three students and two other people from his village were among the missing. He said he did not know how many people were on board. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared arrest by the military.
Sagaing is a stronghold of armed resistance to the ruling military, which seized power in February 2021 from the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
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The occupation was met with peaceful demonstrations that were broken up with lethal force by the army and police. Many opponents of military rule then took up arms, and large parts of the country are now embroiled in a conflict that some UN experts have called a civil war.
The Chindwin River, which flows through Sagaing, has become one of the main transport routes for food, reinforcements and equipment for the army to carry out major attacks in the region, in some cases burning villages and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. It is also known for transporting jade upriver from mines in northern Burma.
Local resistance groups along the river frequently attack military vessels and convoys, firing from the shore.
However, the village of Panset is one of the few considered sympathetic to the military government and its residents have been accused of aiding the army’s counter-insurgency operations.
Several independent Burmese media outlets, which operate underground due to a crackdown by the military, claimed that 100 people were missing from the sunken vessel. One of the sources for the claim, which was not easily verified, was a local resistance group.
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In October 2016, a ferry carrying more than 200 passengers capsized in the Chindwin River in the nearby town of Kani, killing more than 70 people.