The search for at least 15 missing persons — presumed drowned after a pickup truck carrying them and 16 others plunged into the Kandia river in Kohistan last night — resumed on Saturday morning as expert divers and volunteers joined the operation.
The ill-fated truck had been carrying a total 31 passengers from two different families when it met with tragedy over the Kandia river. As it attempted to cross the river over a wooden bridge, the bridge gave way under the load of the truck's passengers and snapped, plunging the vehicle and its occupants into the fast-flowing water below. Only five of the passengers managed to jump out of the vehicle and swim to safety.
Only four bodies could be recovered last night before the operation was suspended due to the lack of sufficient light. Since the operation restarted today, seven more bodies have been recovered from the river. The search for 15 more continues.
At the moment, the flow of water in the river is prohibitively fast, due to which search teams are facing difficulties. However, Deputy Commissioner Upper Kohistan Hamidur Rehman has said that expert teams have been dispatched to fish out bodies from the river and are hopeful of making recoveries.
Ubaidur Rehman, general secretary of Civil Defence, told our correspondent that the victims, which include women and children, belonged to two separate families
“We fear that the children's bodies may have moved downstream towards the Indus. Lack of resources and facilities are hampering the rescue work,” he regretted. He said police, civil defence volunteers, locals and divers were all assisting in the search for the bodies.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Mahmood Khan expressed his sorrow for the victim's families and directed the deputy commissioner to expedite the search operation and use all available resources to find the victims and cooperate with the affected families.
Kandia is located in Upper Kohistan, which has been badly affected by frequent flash floods, making its roads extremely dangerous for travel.
About 70 suspension wooden bridges are being used for crossing the Kandia river and other streams, but most of the bridges are in dilapidated condition.