SWABI/CHARSADDA/KOHAT: Eight persons drowned when a boat capsized in the Indus River near Kund Park in Nowshera district on Thursday, the second day of Eidul Fitr.

Rescue 1122 officials said the boat was carrying 15 persons, adding rescuers managed to pull out seven picnickers alive, but eight of them drowned.

Officials told Dawn that tourists from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and numerous regions of Punjab visited the Kund Park on Eid days to enjoy boating in the Indus. The park is situated at the confluence of Kabul and Indus rivers.

Officials said many other tourists looked on hopelessly as the boat sank.

“The picnickers riding in the ill-fated boat started crying for help,” an official said.

Five drown while swimming in Charsadda, Kohat

The official said they recovered eight bodies, including seven members of a family, and an unidentified person.

“The rescuers also managed to locate the debris of the ill-fated boat.”

The official said depth of the river at the place of capsize ranged between 50 to 150 meters.

Kashif Khan, a rescue official, said keeping in mind the number of tourists visiting Kund Park on Eid days, they had deployed the emergency teams there.

He said rescue boats and rescuers present in the park responded quickly when they got information about the incident at 3pm, adding three tourists were recovered by divers and three to four people managed to get out of the water on their own.

Assistant commissioner Muneeba Fatima said that they had recovered seven tourists from the water, including five, who were rescued by private boats. However, she said there was still one child missing and the rescue teams of Swabi, Nowshera and Mardan were trying to trace the minor.

A day after boat capsize incident, authorities on Friday arrested 24 swimmers and picnickers for violating a ban on swimming in rivers.

Meanwhile, in Charsadda district, three children drowned in River Swat in Khayali area while swimming on Thursday, the second day of Eidul Fitr.

The children, who belonged to Afghan province of Badkhshan, were studying in a Peshawar seminary and were in Charsadda for picnic.

Three other student picnickers were rescued by a local swimmer, Mohammad Zubair.

Also, a boy, 16, drowned in Sardaryab area of the district.

They authorities also arrested 10 picnickers on Friday.

The Charsadda deputy commissioner had on April 4 imposed ban on swimming in rivers for a period of 10 days.

Similarly, a young boy drowned in Ghurzandi dam in Lachi tehsil of Kohat, while his cousin was rescued on Thursday.

Rescue officials said the boys got entangled in a steel wire.

A Rescue 1122 medical team responded promptly after receiving a call in its control room, while volunteers pulled out one of the boys alive.

On January 29, 2023, a boat carrying children of a seminary had capsized in Tanda Dam of Kohat, leaving 56 of them dead.

On April 4, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa home and tribal affairs department had directed the district administrations across the province to make arrangements for ensuring standard operating procedures were properly implemented in water bodies (rivers and dams).

“No boating should be allowed without lifejackets and it should be ensured that no overloading occurs. Similarly, bathing in rivers with fast currents may be banned,” a letter issued to the district administrations had read.

The letter had said that Rescue 1122 may be put on alert, especially around water bodies and other places of rush, to be there in case of any untoward incident.

Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2024

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