At least 21 people are reported dead and several others still missing after a boat carrying religious devotees capsized in a creek near the village of Bohara situated close to Thatta on Thursday, officials told DawnNews.
District officials have placed the number of passengers on board between 50-100, of which more than 20 have been recovered.
Thatta Deputy Commissioner (DC) Nasir Baig said the boat was carrying 60-70 passengers. At least 21 bodies have been recovered, according to officials at the Mirpur Sakro Taluqa Hospital.
The Thatta DC said 15-20 people were rescued and admitted to the hospital in an unconscious state.
Commissioner Hyderabad Division Dr Saeed Magnejo said that ongoing local rescue efforts are being supported by coordination with military units in the area.
However, after sunset rescuers were facing difficulties to continue the search operations.
He added that ambulances from Thatta and Sujawal districts had been mobilised to participate in the rescue efforts.
According to local rescue officials, the passengers were devotees seeking to attend the annual urs celebration of a sufi saint. They are believed to be members of the Dawoodi Bohra community.
Magnejo said that most of the passengers are residents of Karachi.
There are conflicting reports on how the accident happened, how many boats were involved, and where it took place.
The Thatta DC said the accident took place as the overloaded boat lost balance and tipped over in a creek 30 kilometres away from Bohara. He added that the boat was carrying passengers travelling to the shrine of Pir Pathai to celebrate a festival.
Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah said that one boat capsized at the Bohara jetty when the boat tilted over as passengers rushed to exit it. He said there were nearly 100 passengers on board at the time.
Shah said he had received reports of at least 40 bodies being recovered. These reports, however, have not been independently verified by Dawn.com.
Deputy Inspector General Hyderabad Jawed Alam Odho said one boat had capsized, without offering further details, whereas an area commissioner claimed two boats had collided together in the creek.