Multan - The raging flood took toll on residents of Multan and Muzaffargarh on Sunday as at least 17 people including a groom drowned when their boat capsized near Sher Shah flood embankment in River Chenab.

However, at least 20 people including bride were rescued by Rescue 1122, Army and Navy personnel.

A relative of the ill-fated family told journalists that groom Zahid Ali and bride Mishal, after tying the knot, were returning from Muzaffargarh for their walima ceremony at Multan when they met with the tragedy.

Rescue 1122 sources confirmed that 17 bodies were recovered from the river. Some of the deceased were identified as groom Zahid, Naib Subedar of Army Anab, Fauzia, Asif, Shayan, Ali Abbas, Khadim Hussain, Shahid Iqbal, Shakir, Shahida Bibi and Ahmad Gull. Six bodies could not be identified till filing of this report.

Almost all survivors were discharged from hospital after their treatment.

The ill-fated family went to Muzaffargarh on Saturday for marriage ceremony. They boarded a boat being run by the government under local arrangement to ship the citizens to Multan since the road contact between Multan and Muzaffargarh had become inaccessible due to flood.

The DCO Muzaffargarh Shaukat Ali said that the boat was not overloaded and fully fit for rescue operation.

“Although it capsized due to a high wave of water in River Chenab, yet I’ve ordered an inquiry into the incident,” he told journalists.

An eyewitness of the incident, Arsalan Khan, said the incident took place just 200 metres ahead of the bank. “The water waves returned to the river after hitting the bank. They got panicked and created a stampede-like situation after seeing a big wave coming towards them. As a result, the boat capsized,” he explained while giving details of the incident.

Ashiq Malik, medical superintendent of the nearby Nishtar Hospital, told AFP the bodies of two children and bridegroom Zahid Ali, 27, were brought there.

“I saved my life by holding on to an electricity pole,” distraught bride Mishal told a private news channel.

Jam Sajjad, a spokesman for Punjab’s rescue service, claimed the party wanted to charter the boat despite warnings about the dangerously high waters.

“The family requested to cross the flooded river in the boat and were refused by military officials several times but they kept insisting,” he said.

“The waves were moving fast and the family and other people panicked. They were asked to remain calm but they continued to panic, causing the boat to become unbalanced and capsize.”

NAIB SUBEDAR LAID TO REST

The Namaz-e-Janaza of Naib Subedar Anab Gull, who embraced martyrdom while rescuing women and children during Pak Army’s flood rescue and relief operation, was held here at Army Sports Ground on Sunday.

Corps Commander Multan Lt Gen Abid Parvez participated in the funeral prayers. The body was sent to his native town tehsil Palandri. He is survived by three sons, two daughters and a widow.

Martyr Anab Gull was from Frontier Force Regiment and he sacrificed his life while trying to save the lives of passengers of an ill-fated boat that capsized in River Chenab near Sher Shah flood bank.

When Army divers recovered his body, he was still holding a woman and a child in his arms.