At least 50 people are feared drowned after a passenger ferry crashed into an oil barge in Burma.

The accident happened Sunday when the wooden boat carrying nearly 180 passengers was travelling along the Ngawun river in the southern Irrawaddy Delta.

An official in the area said that the boat sank after colliding with an oil barge.

'We have recovered 34 bodies and there are at least another 16 people missing who are believed to have drowned.

'Other passengers were rescued from the water and have gone back to their home villages.'

The vessel, named the Naywintun, or Rising Sun, was travelling between the towns of Pathein and Thetkelthaung when it sank.

Officials in Burma, officially known as Myanmar, said the Red Cross in the area was helping survivors.

Most people living in the low lying region rely heavily on poorly maintained river ferries for transportation around its flooded plains.