Rescue workers retrieve vehicle from Jhelum River. — Dawn
Rescue workers retrieve vehicle from Jhelum River. — Dawn

GUJAR KHAN: Four minor children and two women belonging to a same family drowned in River Jhelum after their van loaded on a boat slipped into the river near its destination.

According to sources, the boat was transporting passengers from Sagharpur village in Jhelum to Noorpur Peeranwala village across the Malkwal tehsil of Mandi Bahauddin. As the boat approached the bank, its hind side tilted and submerged into the river, and the passengers slipped into the river. Eight people were sitting in the van and two of them jumped out while six others, including four minor children and two women, lost their lives as they remained caged in the locked doors of the van.

According to the Chotala police of Jhelum, the transport boat was loaded with 14 motorbikes and the van and a large number of commuters.

The victims have been identified as Ghayur Abbas, 6, son of Zameer Abbas, Shahmeer, 6 , Ranaa ,2, and Shaheer Abbas, eight months, children of Shamsheer Shah, and their aunts Azmat, wife of Farhat Shah, and Shehnaz, wife of Arif Shah.

Mohammad Waseem, a journalist in Pind Dadan Khan, said there was no bridge in the area to across the river to Mandi Bahauddin.

He said that there was only Rasool Barrage road linkage 60km beyond the GT Road. He said all the highways between Jhelum and Lillah were dismantled for reconstruction during the previous government and the people were facing hardships to approach the Rasool Barrage Bridge or the route of GT Road, and they were forced to transport their vehicles and families across the river as a short cut to continue their journey on the other side of the river.

He said funds for the reconstruction of the Lillah-Jhelum road were blocked after dismantling the existing road putting the lives of commuters at risk.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2024

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