The number of recovered bodies has risen since the release of this video.

KARACHI: At least 23 bodies of picnickers, most of them youth, were pulled out at different points of Clifton and Hawksbay beaches in the port city till Thursday night, while search for the other missing people was continued by the rescue agencies, said Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui.

The commissioner appealed to the people not to violate ban on bathing in the sea, otherwise, action will be taken in case of violation of the law, according to a handout issued here.

It said that Rescue-1299 centre set up at the commissioner Karachi office has issued an advice note in which it has warned the people to avoid bathing in the sea for their own safety, as sea conditions become very rough from June to August.

Commissioner Siddiqui is personally monitoring the rescue operation being conducted with the help of Pakistan Coast Guards, Fire Brigade and other City government departments at the beaches, official sources said.

More than two dozen holidaymakers had drowned while bathing at Clifton and Hawkesbay beaches on the second day of Eidul Fitr.

The rescue teams have recovered 21 bodies from different points of Clifton beach while two from Hawkesbay.

In the meantime police arrested eight people from Clifton beach who were bathing there in violation of ban on entering/bathing in the sea, the sources said.

Thousands of picnickers had turned up at the city beaches on the second day of Eid although the administration had imposed ban on entering or bathing in the sea due to rough sea condition.

Pakistan Navy helicopters were also being used in the rescue operation.

People gather as a Pakistan Navy diver attached to a sling rope from a helicopter, holds the body of a man who had drowned on Wednesday, after recovering it from Arabian Sea during a search rescue operation at Karachi
People gather as a Pakistan Navy diver attached to a sling rope from a helicopter, holds the body of a man who had drowned on Wednesday, after recovering it from Arabian Sea during a search rescue operation at Karachi's Clifton beach July 31, 2014.— Photo by AFP

Siddiqui had earlier appealed to the people not to violate the ban as the sea water is rough and dangerous.


High number of drowning incidents


Experts speaking to DawnNews said that the high number of drownings may have occured due to dredging activities carried out near the coast for the extension of Karachi port operations.

Speaking to Dawn, a lifeguard said that the high number of drowning incidents were not just due to the rough monsoon seas but due to lack of cooperation from the large number of people who had turned up on the beaches.

Another lifeguard said that more than 150,000 people had turned up at Karachi's beaches on the event of Eid whereas there were only a handful of rescue personnel covering the coastline of the city which stretches to around 130 kilometres.


Administrative response and relatives' woes


As a result of the drowning, routes leading to the beaches were sealed. Policemen on horseback were patrolling Clifton beach while a picket was established on Maripur road to intercept picnickers on way to Hawkes Bay, French beach, Sandspit and other beaches.

Relatives of the missing picnickers, trying to approach Clifton beach to search for their loved ones, staged protests and burnt tyres after policemen restricted the access of all beachgoers.

Faiz Rehman, 32, said he and his younger brother had came to the beach on Wednesday to go for a swim along with two friends — who were now missing.

He said: “As we were swimming in the sea, I noticed the waves getting bigger and more rough, and I got scared and started swimming back.

“I also called my brother and friends to swim back to the shore. My brother returned but my two friends were still swimming as the waves got bigger I lost sight of them.

“I waited for around three hours but they didn't return. “Twenty-four-year-old Muhammad Haroon added he had come to celebrate Eid with his cousins, but refused to swim with them because he did not want to ruin his new clothes.

“I was walking along the shore waiting for them to return.

“We are still clueless about them. “

Thousands of people had turned up at the city beaches on the second day of Eid despite the administration-imposed ban under Section 144 on entering or bathing in the sea.

President Mamnoon Hussain expressed sorrow over the loss of lives.