THATTA: At least 21 people, mostly women and children, died on Thursday when an overloaded boat carrying devotees to the shrine of Meenh Pathai for an annual festival and pilgrimage capsized after being buffeted by strong winds near the coastal area of Mirpur Sakro.
The boat was some 10 nautical miles away from the coastal town of Buhara in Thatta district when the tragedy struck. Rescue services were still trying to account for the missing devotees, when we went to the press.
Thatta Deputy Commissioner Mirza Nasir Baig said that the boat, locally called hora, had been carrying nearly 100 devotees, mostly hailing from settlements along the Karachi coastal belt, to the annual pilgrimage. He added that the boat overturned after its crew lost control of the vessel caught in a gale.
In his initial report presented to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Thatta DC had stated that 14 bodies had been found and over 20 people had been rescued from drowning in the sea. The death toll rose later.
Syed Gulab, president of the Pakistan Fisher Folk Forum’s Thatta chapter, and local journalists confirmed that the victims hailed from villages including Ibrahim Haidri, Rehri, Memon Goth, Somar Kandrani and Kathore.
At least 13 bodies were brought to the Shaikh Zaid Bin Sultan Hospital in Mirpur Sakro, six were taken to the Basic Health Unit in Buhara and two were transported to Mirpur Sakro for medico-legal formalities.
Expressing heartfelt sorrow over the loss of lives, the chief minister directed the Hyderabad commissioner and the Thatta deputy commissioner to personally supervise the rescue operation and to let him know if they needed assistance. Naval task force personnel from Sujawal and Karachi bases arrived at the location where the boat had capsized and helped rescue personnel look for the missing devotees. Ambulances of the Edhi Foundation and Aman Foundation were present at the location to transport the bodies for burial.
Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2017