MANSEHRA: Stranded on a rock, completely surrounded by gushing floodwater, four men in Sangai village in Lower Kohistan were devoured one by one in the river as they awaited help.
Locals who helplessly witnessed the gut-wrenching deaths say that the five men, who belonged to the indigenous community, tried to make their way out of the flooded river. However, all but one fell into it and died.
“It was a horrible scene [like] in films as hundreds of onlookers were shouting Allah-o-Akbar for the lives of those five people trapped there,” said Maulana Ahsanullah, a family member of the victims.
Mr Ahsanullah, who is also a resident of Sanagai village, recalled the tragic moments when the victims desperately tried to hold onto ropes while attempting to save their lives.
Search under way for the bodies, with little hope that the families will ever be able to bid final farewell
He said the incident happened when the Dubair stream, running parallel to a link road in Sanagai area suddenly started swelling as torrents of water from upstream made its way into the channel.
Two of the victims, Mohammad Obaidullah and Mohammad Riaz, who were drivers by profession, were passing through the road. They tried to park their vehicles at the corner as the water level rose.
According to eyewitnesses’ account, their three fellows, Mohammad Anwar, Mohammad Fazl and Hazarat Bilal, tried to help them steer the vehicles away from the floods but they were swept away.
“When the water level surged, they jumped on a big rock. But, to their extreme misfortune, Ranowalia Bridge was washed away which further increased the level and they were shoulder-deep into it,” Mr Ahsanullah narrated.
“Out of options,” he added, the five men tried to cling on to the ropes they were carrying and started climbing.
However, as their tenuous grips loosened, four of them vanished into the gushing water. Mohammad Obaidullah was the sole survivor.
Another relative Ashraf Ali said that the incident has shattered people across all villages and towns in the area.
“Our people approached the administration and government through cell phones and social media to arrange helicopters for the rescue but our efforts weren’t fruitful,” another local told Dawn.
He added that he even approached Jamiat-i-Islami chief Sirajul Haq and sought help but to no avail.
The search for the bodies was under way, however, there was no hope that the families would ever get to say the final goodbye to their loved ones.
“The deaths will be remembered forever, and they will always give us the sense that we are the inhabitants of a mountainous abode which is deprived of even basic necessities,” the local added.
Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2022