At least 15 people drowned on Sunday while crossing a flooded causeway in Myanmar to reach a Buddhist temple for a festival, rescue workers told AFP.
The tragedy unfolded as thousands of worshippers tried to reach the Kyeik Hne pagoda, which lies on a rocky outcrop around three kilometers off the coast near the town of Thanbyuzayat in southern Mon state.
Local officials said some died when they tried to cross the poorly marked causeway, which is only around four meters wide, while the tide was too high.
“We normally allow the people to come at 6:30 am but they would not listen to us and started trying to walk across too early,” local official Nai Sahai Eain told AFP.
More drowned later when they were jostled from the crowded walkway into the sea.
Ko Kyaw Thu, an emergency responder from Thanbyuzayat, told AFP that 15 bodies had been taken to hospital and three people were still missing.
Local resident Nai Wona told AFP the causeway was not marked out clearly enough, making it hard to navigate.
The full-moon that marks the end of the rainy season is celebrated across Buddhist-majority Myanmar in explosions of color, with fireworks, lanterns and hot air balloons.
Celebrations have been muted this year, with much of the country in uprising against the February coup and escalating violence between junta troops and dissidents.