RAHIM YAR KHAN:
Efforts to retrieve the bodies of those killed in a boat accident in the Indus river near Sadiqabad continued for the third day on Wednesday with the confirmed death toll rising to 27 and the number of those feared dead at over 50.
The boat carrying a wedding party had capsized at Machhka in Sadiqabad. Assistant Commissioner Salim Asi told the media that the death toll had reached 27 after one body was found during the night and four others rose to the surface of the water early in the morning.
The bodies of 24 women and three children have been found so far.
Meanwhile, personnel of Pakistan Army also joined the rescue operation. Eighteen divers and commandos were engaged in the operation.
Around 40 rescue divers and local fishermen had been searching for those who drowned in the deep water of the river for the previous two days.
Help is also being provided for shifting the bodies found at the accident site to homes.
Among the five bodies found retrieved from the during the past day, three were of women and two of children.
All of them were buried after funeral prayers amid an atmosphere of mourning in the locality.
A local source said the search operation was continuing to trace about 30 people missing since the accident.
The army divers and commandos have reportedly taken over the responsibilities of the rescue operation after a appeal for help by Bahawalpur Division Commissioner Raja Jahangir Anwar.
The bodies found during the past 24 hours included those of Hamidan Bibi, Rehana Bibi and four-year-old Kulsoom.
Officials also said on Wednesday there was no hope of finding more survivors.
The overcrowded vessel was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on Monday.
All those on board belonged to the Solangi community, and they were on their way from Machhka to a family wedding across the river in Sardarpur in Union Council Kahror Wali in Rojhan tehsil, local officials said.
“It’s been more than 48 hours since the incident so there’s no chance of finding survivors,” Kashif Nisar Gill, a spokesman for the district administration said.
Most of the survivors were men who managed to swim ashore, he said.
Nearly 35 divers from a state-run rescue service took part in an operation to find and save more people who were in the river, an official statement earlier said. Local divers from the areas close by also joined the rescue operation, according to witnesses.
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, while taking note of the incident, expressed regret and condoled with the bereaved families. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also sent his condolences to the bereaved families.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2022.
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