Monday, September 19, 2011

17 Feared Dead as Row Boat Capsizes in Naff River on way to Bangladesh

By Takaloo
Maungdaw: 17 people, including children and women, are feared dead after a row boat loaded with passengers from southern Maungdaw, border township in western Burma's Arakan State, capsized in the Naff river while traveling illegally to Bangladesh.

Naf-river Naf river
A local villager told Narinjara that the row boat, carrying 22 passengers from Labawzaw Village in southern Maungdaw Township, capsized in the evening hours last Friday.

"The row boat was reported to have capsized in the Naff River while illegally going to Bangladesh. 17 people, including children and women, out of the 22 people on board drowned in the incident and we are still finding some of the bodies floating in the river," said the villager.

He said the boat is one of the passenger boats that is allowed to travel to Bangladesh illegally by Burmese border security force Nasaka because they paid monthly tolls for crossing the Naff River to Bangladesh.

Sources on both sides of the border said the boat capsized in the river after a speed boat from the Bangladesh Coast Guard accidentally crashed into it. The coast guard was chasing after the boat to check for yaba or other smuggled drugs.

However, no official confirmation of the incident has been available so far from authorities in either Bangladesh or Burma. The Burmese border authority transferred two of the bodies to family members yesterday after they were recovered from the banks of the Naff River on the Burmese side.

One villager said, "A body was handed over by Burmese authorities to family in Capa Gaung Village in Maungdaw Township, and another body was sent to Buthidaung to be transferred to the family."

The boats crossing the border illegally from both sides are rickety row boats, and there have been such incidents of boats capsizing in the river and killing passengers almost every year, especially due to bad weather in the rainy season.

Sources said some of the bodies of the deceased are still floating on both sides of the Naff River, but no authority so far is concerned to recover the bodies and plan for proper cremations.
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