KARACHI -  At least 21 people were killed and several others still missing after a boat carrying religious devotees capsized in a creek near the village of Bohara situated close to Thatta on Thursday, officials said.

Thatta Deputy Commissioner Nasir Baig said the ill-fated boat – which carried over 60-70 passengers, including women and children – overturned due to heavy winds coupled with rough seas some 3.2 nautical miles (6 kilometers) from the village of Bohara.

The passengers were on their way to attend a ceremony at a Sufi shrine at Bohara in the Thatta district, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the commercial capital of Karachi, he added.

The Thatta DC said 15-20 people were rescued and admitted to the hospital in an unconscious state.

At least 21 bodies have been recovered, according to officials at the Mirpur Sakro Taluqa Hospital.

Hyderabad Division Commissioner Dr Saeed Magnejo said that ongoing local rescue efforts were being supported by coordination with military units in the area. However, after sunset the rescuers were facing difficulties to continue the search operations.

He added that ambulances from Thatta and Sajawal districts had been mobilised to participate in the rescue efforts. He said that most of the passengers are residents of Karachi.

There are conflicting reports on how the accident happened, how many boats were involved, and where it took place.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Chairman Muhammad Ali Shah said that one boat capsized at the Bohara jetty when the boat tilted over as passengers rushed to exit it. He said there were nearly 100 passengers on board at the time.

Hyderabad Deputy Inspector General Jawed Alam Odho said one boat had capsized, without offering further details, whereas an area commissioner claimed two boats had collided together in the creek.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah took notice of the incident and sought report from the concerned authorities. He also directed the rescue administration to complete the rescue operation before getting dark.

Zardari sympathizes

with victims

Former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari has condoled with the families of the victims of capsized boat in Thatta and asked the Sindh government for report into the incident.

Asif Ali Zardari directed elected representatives and party officebearers to provide every support to the victims’ families. He also instructed the Sindh government to pay compensation to the bereaved families and provide medical treatment to the injured.