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Search for missing in boat accident continues

(China Daily)

08:46, September 05, 2012

Rescuers from China and Myanmar are still searching for 14 people missing in a boat accident that occurred on Sunday on the Lancang River near Southwest China's Yunnan province, local officials said.

The Mengla county government said in a statement on Tuesday that 14 people, including eight students from Myanmar, remain missing despite several rounds of searches that are still under way.

A ferry, registered in Myanmar, overturned after leaving port in a village in Myanmar on Sunday at noon and sank into the Lancang River, upstream of the Mekong River.

Twenty-two people were on board, including nine students who took the ferry to attend school in Mengla county, the statement said.

The county's rescue team said the accident was caused by overloading, according to Xinhua News Agency.

After the accident, Guanlei port in Mengla county sent two ships to search for survivors. So far, eight people have been rescued.

Chen Qizhong, deputy head of Xishuangbanna prefecture, which administers Mengla, urged the local government to spare no effort to help the neighboring country in the rescue work.

Chen also said local water safety authorities should strengthen inspections of passenger and cargo boats to ensure safer transport on the international waterways.

"I have always taken the ferries to school, but this time I was really terrified," said Jiang Shiqi, a 12-year-old student who survived the accident.

Jiang was the only Chinese citizen among the 22 people on board. He lives with his parents, who work in a rubber tree farm in Myanmar.

Li Yuanxi, a publicity official of the prefecture, said the ferry was owned by Li Bing, 28, who was born in the province's Lancang county, and immigrated to Myanmar to do business.

The ferryboat owner, who also survived the accident, was now under police control, Li said.

Yan Wenxiang, another ferryboat owner, said there were four boats on the river providing ferry services.

"As there is no bridge, people living in the border area tend to take a ferry to commute for business or school," he said.

Yan added that the ferries charge 5 yuan (79 cents) for a single trip for adults or motorcycles, but offer free rides to students.

He said a boat can carry about 10 people at one time, but the sunken boat had too many passengers on board.

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