20 killed in Myanmar wedding boat crash

Myanmar soldiers and members of a rescue team carry the body of a passenger after a ferry sank in the Nga Wun River in Pathein with at least 20 dead

At least 20 people were killed when a boat carrying scores of wedding guests collided with a river barge at night in western Myanmar, authorities said Saturday, with more feared drowned as rescue workers renewed their search in daylight.

Most of the dead were women, according officials, who said the boat sank Friday evening on a river in Pathein, a port city west of the commercial capital Yangon.

"Altogether 16 women and four men were killed in the boat accident," regional MP Aung Thu Htwe told AFP Saturday morning.

"We estimate nine people are still missing," he said, adding that some 30 people had been rescued alive the night before.

The boat was believed to be carrying between 60 and 80 people when it sank, according to state media and a local police officer.

"They were crossing to the other side of the river after attending a wedding in Pathein. Most of them were relatives from the same village," said the police officer, who requested anonymity.

Both boats were unlit when they collided in the middle of the river, he added.

Photos in local media showed rescuers working in the darkness on Saturday night to lay the bodies of the dead onshore.

Local authorities and red cross workers resumed the search operation this morning, the police officer said.

"We will do search and rescue for the whole day," he told AFP.

Fatal boat accidents are common in Myanmar, where many people living along its flood-prone rivers rely on often overcrowded ferries for transport.

It often takes several days before all of the bodies are retrieved.

Last October 73 people, including many teachers and students, died when their packed vessel capsized in central Myanmar on the Chindwin River.

Earlier that year in April at least 21 people, including nine children, died after their boat sank off the coast of Myanmar's western state of Rakhine.

Around 60 people died the year before, in March 2015, when their ferry went down in the same treacherous waters off of Rakhine.