Darkness, unfenced drain set death trap for young family in Karachi

Published July 19, 2022
People stand around the rubble of a multi-storey building collapsed in Moosa Colony on Monday. (Right) Volunteers look for a missing infant in Shadman Nullah after a family travelling on a motorcycle fell into the drain.—Online / Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
People stand around the rubble of a multi-storey building collapsed in Moosa Colony on Monday. (Right) Volunteers look for a missing infant in Shadman Nullah after a family travelling on a motorcycle fell into the drain.—Online / Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: On Sunday night, a family met with a tragic incident when their bike fell into an open patch of an under-construction Shadman Nullah, leaving the mother dead and the infant son gone missing in the drain.

The scenes at the site of the incident were heart-wrenching.

The local residents, who themselves were weeping, were trying to console the man who lost his wife and the two-month-old son.

When I reached at the spot, a huge crowd had gathered around the open patch of the nullah, which proved to be a death trap for the family.

A day on from tragedy, search for missing infant still under way

The rescue servicemen and eyewitnesses told Dawn that a man along with his wife and two children — two-year-old daughter and two-month-old boy — was riding his bike and took a turn presuming the unfenced open drain to be a U-turn due to the darkness and fell into it.

It is to be mentioned here that the people who commute on this road on daily basis know the fact that it is always dark here and streetlights do not function.

This time in the moment of darkness, the man lost his wife and a son due to the collective failure of the stakeholders.

Talking to Dawn, one of the witnesses said that it was around 8pm when the family fell in the open patch of the nullah. His little daughter was sitting on the petrol tank of the bike, and when they were falling in the drain, the father quickly grabbed her and tossed her to the road to save her life.

Later, the people saved the man, but the woman and the son were drowned due to the high pressure of the water.

The Chippa volunteers then reached at the spot and started searching for the missing woman and her minor son. The body of the woman was found after one-and-a-half-hours of efforts and was taken to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. However, the rescue servicemen, even after more than 20 hours, were unable to find the son.

Mr Nadeem, who was a relative of the family and also has a mechanic shop near the place of the incident, said that the family belonged to Orangi Town and they were going to attend a dinner feast near Shadman Town.

The local residents of Shadman told Dawn that the patch was dug up months ago on the instructions of deputy commissioner of Central Taha Saleem to clear the nullah so that it does not overflow during the monsoon rains, but it was not closed or made secure by the authorities.

However, DC Central Taha Saleem refuted the claim and said that the nullah was under-construction and was a part of an ongoing mega project worth Rs1 billion and that way why the drain had been excavated and ‘fenced’, but, he suspected that the fencing might have been swept away due to heavy flooding.

“They [the aggrieved family] might not know about this because they are not the locals of the area,” he said speaking to Dawn.

He added that the patch had now been covered to avoid any such incident again.

This was not the first case of this nature. In this very monsoon spell, another bike rider also fell into the Shadman Nullah as the road was inundated with the rainwater and the fence was broken, but he was luckily immediately rescued by the people around.

Women Development Minister Shehla Raza had also gone through a similar agony, when her two children — Aks-i-Batool, 13, and Shayan, 10 — had drowned when her car skidded off into an unfenced drain. Ms Raza also received injuries in the incident that happened in Nov, 2005.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2022

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