At least 15 people died in south Punjab over the weekend. Rescue officials said most incidents were reported from picnic spots near the banks of Taunsa Barrage near Kot Addu and Sidhnai Barrage near Khanewal.
Five men- four cousins and a friend- drowned in the Taunsa Barrage on Saturday. Rescue officials said the men, all residents of Qadirpur Rawaan, had gone for a picnic. They drowned while bathing. One of their relatives, Muhammad Saleem, said they had told their families that they were going to River Chenab. Four of the bodies were recovered after eight hours. Search from the fifth still continues.
In Muzaffargarh, two men drowned in River Chenab. They were both resident of the Shah Jamal area. Both bodies have been recovered.
Two men drowned in River Ravi near Head Sidhnai in the Abdul Hakim area in Khanewal.
One of their friends was rescued. Rescue officials said that Muhammad Sajjad, 24, Muhammad Farooq, 22, and Adnan, 20, were bathing in Head Sidhnai, when a heavy wave took them into the deep waters. Adnan managed to swim back, while Sajjad and Farooq drowned. Their bodies were recovered after a four-hour search.
Six friends, residents of Chak 163-TDA in Layyah drowned in the Taunsa Barrage. Their families said that none of the six knew swimming. One of deceased was a resident of Lahore and was visiting his friends for Eid. The bodies were recovered. Relatives of some of the deceased later staged demonstrations to register their protest against the government for not securing the picnic area.
They also accused the district government of delaying the rescue operation.
They said the government should put up signs guiding people on how far they could safely go into the water.
The Muzaffargarh district coordination officer on Sunday issued a notice banning picnic at Taunsa Barrage. He directed officials to write messages on walls near the barrage stopping people from swimming.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2013.