Search continues: Rescue teams, authorities give conflicting figures of drowned persons

Two more bodies were retrieved on Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 37, according to commissioner.


Our Correspondent August 02, 2014

KARACHI:


Rescue Teams claim to have retrieved two more bodies from the sea on Saturday. The victims had drowned at the Sea View beach.


The death toll from the drowning incidents has risen to 37, according to Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui. On the other hand, Edhi rescue services claimed to have received 42 bodies of drowned victims at the Edhi morgue during the Eid holidays.

The search and rescue operation continued all day on Saturday and the two bodies were found at the sea shore - one at the Karachi Harbour and the other at China Creek.

“A man, identified as Mujeeb is still missing and we hope that his body might be one of the two bodies lying at the Edhi morgue,” Siddiqui told The Express Tribune.

According to Siddiqui, the decision to continue the search and rescue operation on Sunday will be taken after consulting reports of the rescue teams and the Pakistan Navy services will be called in.

The Pakistan Navy divers carried out the operation all day but the two bodies were found from the shore, said the Navy spokesperson.  “Our rescue helicopter and divers searched 20 nautical miles areas on the sea for the missing bodies,” he said, adding that the Navy teams would continue to take part in the rescue operation if the commissioner needed them to.

According to the police, the two bodies retrieved on Saturday were identified as Hamza, 16, son of Anwar, resident of Korangi and Noor Muhammad, 15, son of Bacha Khan. Clifton ASP Dr Asad said that the family of 14-year-old Najeeb was still waiting for the child’s body.

On the other hand, the Edhi spokesperson said that they had received 42 bodies at the morgue. The majority of the bodies have been handed over to the families for burial. “We still have two unclaimed bodies but they are not recognizable,” said the spokesperson

Lawyer calls for suo motu notice

The acting chief justice of the Sindh High Court (SHC), Faisal Arab, asked a lawyer to file a Constitutional petition so that proceedings could be initiated against the Sea View tragedy, in which more than 37 picnickers drowned during the Eid holidays.

Acting CJ Faisal Arab gave this direction to advocate Nadeem Sheikh. Sheikh, the president of the Justice Helpline had requested Justice Arab to take suo motu notice of the tragedy in a letter on Saturday.

In the letter he submitted that there is always a contingency plan chalked out and enforced by the relevant authorities to cope with any emergency situation.

He said that the provincial and local government authorities should be questioned whether they had devised any such plan for Eid holidays during which a large number of the picnickers drowned in the sea.

Nadeem Sheikh referred to a media statement of the South Range DIG Abdul Khaliq Sheikh, who had said that the ban imposed earlier by the home department on bathing in the sea had just ended on the eve of Eid, thus there was no bar on citizens from going into the sea.

Justice Faisal Arab noted, however, that the suo motu notice could be taken on any letter addressed by a citizen, but not on one written by a lawyer.

He directed the petitioner to file a proper constitutional petition supported by documents, highlighting the reasons behind the tragedy and suggestions for the future by Monday so that suo motu proceedings could be initiated.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2014.

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