A passenger boat in Attabad Lake got stuck in mud on Friday, leaving all 20 passengers stranded for nearly three hours, police and residents of Hunza said on Saturday.
“The incident occurred at about 8:30pm, soon after the boat left the Gulkin for Hussaini village in Gojal valley,” said Mohammad Ali, a police official.
According to residents, most of the passengers were labourers returning home from work. As the news spread in Hunza, volunteers and rescue workers reached the site and launched an operation that lasted nearly three hours. All the passengers were escorted back safely.
To ensure passengers’ safety, the administration of Hunza has banned boat service in the 23-kilometre lake during night time. However the orders are regularly flouted by boat operators.
Last month, 14 passengers including four foreigners were injured when a boat was hit by stones and boulders blown out of a dynamite blast near the lake’s spillway. Despite the ban, the boat was travelling in an area where conduction work was being carried out at night.
Following the incident on Friday, the district administration has warned boat operators and commuters to avoid night journeys or be prepared to face legal action.
The Frontier Works Organisation has been working on draining out water from the spillway since 2010, when a massive landslide blocked the Hunza River and formed a lake that submerged three villages and a 25-kilometre portion of the Karakoram Highway. Currently boats are the only way to reach Gojal from Hunza.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.