CHINIOT: Seven people were feared drowned in the river Chenab as a boat carrying 13 picnickers capsized on Friday night.

Rescue workers found one dead body while search for the remaining people was going on. Rescue spokesperson Abid Ali said the dead body of 18-year-old Amina Bibi, daughter of Bashir Ahmad, had been recovered and handed over to the family. Efforts were being made to fish out the bodies of others, he said.

Thirteen people boarded a boat near Adda Kalri bank of the river in Lalian tehsil to enjoy Eid festivities despite a ban on boating and gathering around the river bank and at other recreational spots due to strict observance of Covid-19 SOPs. When the boat reached deep waters, some children tried to take selfies while standing on the edge of the boat which capsized.

Rescue workers and locals rescued sailor Aslam, Shahid, 12, Muhammad Khan, 14, Uzaifa Riaz, 12, and Samar Abbas, 22. Eight people – Zain Abbas, 6, Ali Hassan, 6, Rafia, 8, Amina, 18, Rabia, 18, Mazhar, 18, Sarfraz, 30, and Kaneez Bibi, 40, – went missing.

The rescue workers found the dead body of Amina and continued efforts to trace others as well. The flow of river water due to monsoon rains created difficulties for the rescuers.

DPO Bilal Zafar Sheikh took notice of the incident and directed the SP Investigation to probe the possible failure of police in stopping boating.

The Bhowana police registered a case against sailor Muhammad Aslam, a resident of Adda Kalri, on the application of Sarfraz’s brother Riaz. He alleged that Aslam recklessly sailed the boat which capsized after hitting a pillar.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2021

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