PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A shipwreck on a lake in northwestern Pakistan over the weekend left 51 dead, military rescuers said Tuesday. The boat was carrying students and teachers from a seminary to a picnic.
Police said Sunday that at least 10 students drowned when the large wooden boat they were traveling in wrecked at the Tanda Dam in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. They said at the time that 25 people were traveling in the boat.
But authorities later said the boat was overloaded and was carrying 57 people, mostly children, and that at least 51 had died. Kohat police chief Qismat Khan said the bodies had already been handed over for burial and the investigation was continuing.
The military said in a statement that military divers rescued five survivors, and the search for the remaining person was continuing.
Khan said the deaths could have been avoided if the boat owner, who also died, had provided life jackets for the hikers.
Hundreds of the children’s relatives and their teachers were waiting for news near the lake.
“Every time the divers came back with bodies, we would hear the crying of the relatives of these children,” Khan said. Videos and photos provided by the military showed the divers returning with at least three children, of the five survivors, who were rescued and transported to a nearby hospital. Their condition was stable.
The body of the boat’s owner, Sajid Din, was found on Tuesday.
Such accidents are common in Pakistan, where precarious boats transport goods and people across rivers and lakes. Most lack life jackets.
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