DADU: Ten more devotees of Hazrat Qalandar Lal Shahbaz died of heatstroke and two drowned in Aral Wah canal near the Sufi saint’s shrine when they were having a dip in the canal’s cool waters to take some respite from the unbearable heat, which rose three notches up to 49 degrees Celsius on Sunday from 46 a day before.

The total death toll in the two days of the 763rd annual Urs celebrations reached 24. Of them, 18 died of heatstroke and drowning and six were killed in a road accident.

Those who died of heatstroke were identified as Basheer Ahmed, 45, a resident of Sher Shah; Nazakat, 55, of Kamalia; Chhutal Khan, 35, of Shahdad Kot; Bashir Ahmed, 55, of Hasilpur; Mohammad Arshad, 46, of Okara; Mohammad Sharif, 50, of Cheecha Watni, and Sabir Hussain, 40, a resident of Faisalabad.

Besides, unidentified bodies of a 45-year-old woman, and two men who appeared to be 35 and 38 years old, respectively, were found at different places across the small town. They had apparently died of heatstroke sometime during the night.

Two devotees, 50-year-old Hussna of Okara and a 36-year-old unidentified man, drowned in Aral Wah when they were taking a bath to beat the heat.

Sehwan Edhi centre manager Ghulam Sarwar told Dawn that bodies of eight devotees had been sent to their native areas by Edhi ambulances while four unidentified bodies were still lying at the Edhi centre.

Over a dozen pilgrims injured

More than a dozen devotees of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz suffered injuries when their coaster collided with a tractor-trolley near Gambat on the National Highway on Sunday night.

The injured, identified as Mohammad Ameen, Aafaq Ali, Ghulam Ali, Ali Raza, Shakeel, Rafaque Ali, Noor Bibi, Bilquees Khatoon, Asif, Aslam, Aftab and others, were taken to a Gambat hospital.

The devotees who were discharged soon after having been provided first-aid hailed from Cheecha Watni and Sahiwal. They were on their way back to their hometowns after paying a visit to the shrine of Qalandar Shahbaz.

CM takes notice of devotees’ casualties

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has directed the Hyderabad commissioner and the deputy commissioner of Jamshoro to conduct an inquiry into the rising causalities during the annual Urs celebrations of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz, fix responsibility and submit to him a report within 24 hours.

He directed the commissioner of Hyderabad, the deputy commissioner of Jamshoro and officers of the Auqaf and culture department to ensure the devotees were provided all basic facilities, including clean drinking water and healthcare, and traffic was regulated to prevent further deaths.

Published in Dawn, June 8th, 2015

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