Officials coordinate an operation to recover bodies from the Indus River after a boating accident, in Sadiqabad district, Pakistan, on Monday. AP
At least 20 people died, most of them women, and another 30 were missing after a boat carrying more than 100 people of one family capsized in across the Indus River in a marriage procession in central Pakistan on Monday, officials said.
The overloaded boat was heading to a wedding ceremony between the villages of Machka and Kharor when it capsized in the Indus River in the district of Sadiqabad, Punjab province, according to police and local authorities.
Nearly 90 people were rescued by divers, the statement said, adding that the passengers were mostly women and children.
All those on board belonged to one clan, and they were on their way to a family wedding across the river, it said.
“We have retrieved 20 bodies so far” and most of them were women, local government official Aslam Tasleem told local Geo News TV. He said around 30 additional people were missing.
“We’re not sure how many people exactly were on the boat. We’re getting the estimates just on the basis of the family members’ accounts,” he said.
A rescue worker and villagers carry the body of a victim of a boat accident on the Indus River in Sadiqabad. AP
Nearly 35 divers from a state-run rescue service took part in an operation to find and save more people who were in the river, the statement said.
Police officer Mohammad Hammad said “most of the drowned appear to be women” because “most of the men knew how to swim.” “The death toll may increase,” he said.
Villagers in rural Pakistan often use boats to travel, avoiding the higher costs of automobile transport on ramshackle roads that are often far from their homes.
But women are not widely encouraged to learn how to swim in Pakistan, where conservative modesty codes still govern much of their public behaviour.