HYDERABAD: Eight people drowned in the Mitharu Canal, in Sanghar district, after a motorcycle rickshaw fell in the water on Saturday evening.
The protective wall on a tumbledown bridge, which connects Sanghar and Mirpurkhas districts, on the canal had broken down which caused the rickshaw, which was carrying a total of 11 passengers, to fall into the canal. Three people were pulled out alive but eight were missing.
The rickshaw driver, Mitha Khan Chandio, and Suresh Kumar were among those rescued. The bodies of Sangeeta,12, and Kanga, 35, were found 16 hours after the incident.
The navy divers are still searching for Lata, nine, Saroja, 25, Seeta, 38, Prema, four, Boja, eight, Bhola Ram, 56, and an infant. All the passengers were residents of Suleman Wassan village in Kandiari Town and belonged to the Maharaj caste. The whole town shut down to mourn the deaths and the two bodies which were found were cremated on Sunday evening.
According to Pannu Mal, who lost his wife and daughter in the accident, the family was returning from a wedding. The protective wall around the canal broke down around 10 months ago. “We have been asking the authorities concerned repeatedly to repair the bridge,” he said. Aqeel Wassan, a leader of the Wasan village, said that he ran from pillar to post to draw the attention of the district administration, Sindh Irrigation and Drainage Authority and the elected representatives towards the bridge.
“MPA Jam Madad Ali assured us at a public meeting held before the monsoon rains that the bridge will be reconstructed,” he said.
The bridge was built by the irrigation department in 1942. But according to the chief of the Nara Canal Area Water Board, Ghulam Mustafa Ujjan, the highways department is responsible for its repair, maintenance and reconstruction.
“I wrote to the department many times after the complaints. I sent them a letter only a week ago,” said Ujjan. “But they [highways department] say that they don’t have enough funds.” The executive engineer of the highways department could not be reached when The Express Tribune tried to contact him. The residents said that the department’s officers did not even visit the site after the accident.
The deputy commissioner of Sanghar district said that the flow of heavy traffic damaged the bridge. But he avoided to say why the district administration could not spare funds for the bridge’s repair if it knew it was damaged. “For the moment we are busy in searching for bodies,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2012.
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