The death toll from a boat capsizing in the Tanda Dam lake in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohat rose to 51 on Tuesday.
The boat had capsized on Sunday as a group of more than 50 students from Mir Bash Khel seminary, between the ages of eight and 14 years, had gone for a picnic along with the seminary’s caretaker.
In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that the Pakistan Army’s rescue and relief operation was under way at the lake.
Troops, along with Rescue 1122 and civil administration, rescued five students alive while army engineers and Special Services Group divers recovered 51 deceased students and teachers, the statement said.
The statement added that the five rescued students had been shifted to the Kohat District Hospital while the search for one missing individual was ongoing.
However, Rescue 1122 official Jawad Khalil put the death toll at 52, saying that four people had been rescued alive while one student remained missing.
Speaking to Dawn.com, the Khalil said 21 bodies were recovered on Tuesday, including those of the boat operator and his three family members.
He said the search for the missing student would resume on Wednesday morning. Khalil said a total of 57 people were on board, including 55 children, their teacher and boat operator.
On Monday, the seminary’s caretaker Shahid Noor — who survived the tragedy, but lost his two sons and four nephews — had registered a first information report (FIR) against the irrigation department officials for negligence.
In the FIR, he held the executive engineer, sub-divisional officer and sub-engineer of the department responsible for the incident.
He alleged that there were no divers or rescue emergency arrangements at the lake. He further alleged that the boat sailed north, but after reaching the centre of the lake, it capsized because it was overloaded.
Meanwhile, people had staged a demonstration, demanding the suspension of the deputy commissioner as he failed to put in place standard operating procedures at the lake, including providing divers, Rescue 1122 units, and life jackets. They had also demanded an inquiry to punish those responsible.
They had termed the dam a deathtrap, where hundreds of people had drowned.