BANGKOK (AP) — Twelve people, including three members of the security forces, are missing after a boat capsized and sank in a river in the Sagaing region of northwestern Myanmar, state-run media reported Thursday.
A report in the state-run Myanma Alinn Daily said six civilians, three workers and the security force personnel were missing after the vessel was caught Tuesday morning in strong currents in the Chindwin River near Panset village in Kale district.
The report said the vessel was part of a goods-carrying 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 vessels guarded by security forces had docked there on Monday night, and that the missing included three university students and two other people from his village. He said he did not know how many people had been aboard. He spoke on the 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.
The takeover was met with peaceful demonstrations that were quashed 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 U.N. experts have called a civil war.
The Chindwin River, which flows through Sagaing, has become one of the major routes to transport food, reinforcements and equipment for the army to carry out major offensives in the region, in some cases burning down villages and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. It is also known for carrying jade downriver from mines in northern Myanmar.
Locally formed resistance groups along the river often attack military vessels and convoys, firing from shore.
However, Panset village is one of the few considered sympathetic to the military government, and its residents have been accused of assisting in the army’s counter-insurgency operations.
Several independent Myanmar media outlets, which operate underground because of repression by the military, claimed that as many as 100 people were missing from the sunken boat. One of the sources for the claim, which was not readily verifiable, was a local resistance group.
In October 2016, a vessel carrying more than 200 passengers capsized in the Chindwin River in nearby Kani township and more than 70 people died.