Death toll jumps to 22 in Pakistan boat capsize tragedy

Hopes of finding over 2 dozen missing passengers fading, says official.

Death toll jumps to 22 in Pakistan boat capsize tragedy

Pakistan Army divers on Tuesday joined the rescue operation for over two dozen passengers after a boat capsized in the fast-flowing Indus River, officials and local media reported.

The death toll from Monday's incident jumped to 22 as rescuers fished out one more body from the river, miles away from the accident site, local broadcaster Geo News reported.

The fatalities included 19 women.

“We are still looking for 25 to 27 missing passengers as army divers have also joined the rescue operation today," Mohammad Saleem, a senior emergency official told Anadolu Agency by phone. He put the death toll at 21.

Over 150 passengers, including women and children, were heading to a wedding across the river on two boats.

The ill-fated boat carrying over 90 people capsized due to overloading, initial investigations suggested.

Malik Aslam, an eye witness told Anadolu Agency by phone, that “hopes for survival of the missing people are fading" as almost 24 hours have passed after the accident.

A government official, who is overseeing the rescue operation and wished not to be named, said there are little hopes for survival of the missing passengers, who are mostly women and children.

Around 45 passengers from the capsized boat were either rescued by the local divers or they managed to swim out of the river, Geo News reported.

The government, however, in a statement said that over 90 people were rescued.

Saleem said the authorities are not certain about the exact number of people on the boat, and is relying only on the figures provided by the survivors.

Boat accidents are common in rural Pakistan, mainly because of loose safety standards and overloading, where people usually use river routes for daily commute.

Expressing his grief over “the loss of precious lives,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Hüseyin Demir