Unsafe recreation: 50 cases of drowning in Swat River this month

District administration has no measures in place to prevent picnickers from swimming to dangerous points.

Residents of Mingora continue to head to the Swat River to beat the heat despite inadequate safety measures for swimmers. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

MINGORA/ PESHAWAR: Hundreds of people in Mingora turn to the Swat River in the summer to escape from the unrelenting heat. However, many of them particularly children drown to death because of recklessness. 

Since the beginning of Ramazan, over 50 people have drowned while swimming in the river. Unfortunately, the government, though fully aware of the dangers, remains unable to design a safety programme to prevent people from swimming to dangerous areas.

Raza Khan, a resident of Barikot told The Express Tribune, “We recently recovered the body of a child and made several announcements to find his family, but no one came to claim him.”

“These days we recover dozens of bodies from the river whose water level keeps increasing daily. It is unfortunate that the government does not pay attention to this region,” he added.

“The district government has no safety plan in place. Consequently, people swim to dangerous points unaware of the risk and drown,” said Afzal Khan, a resident of Mingora.

Residents say because of the extreme heat and long hours of load-shedding they have no other option than going to the river.

“We cannot sit at home in the scorching heat all day long, so we head to the river to enjoy the cold water,” said Ibrar, a local.

Keeping in view the increasing incidents of drowning, civil society members have asked the district government to take appropriate measures to prevent picnickers from going towards dangerous zones in the river.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.