With the recovery of three more bodies from the Clifton seaview beach on Saturday, the number of people drowned at Karachi's popular beaches while bathing during Eid holidays has risen to 39.
"Until now we have recovered 39 bodies from the rough waters at Seaview, Hawksbay and Sandspit," Deputy Commissioner(South) Mustafa Kamal said. "All of those killed drowned after being sucked in by the high tides and rough sea," he added.
He admitted that the death toll could rise to around 50 which was the number of people reported missing since Eid day. Dozens of people drowned in the rough Arabian sea around Karachi on Eid day last Tuesday when thousands went to the beaches to celebrate their holidays.
The people drowned after defying warnings of not trying to swim due to the monsoon season when the sea weather is very rough.
"It is a great tragedy of what has happened but we are doing our best to recover the bodies. Thankfully, most of those reported missing don't belong to one family," Commissioner Karachi, Shoaib Siddiqui said.
He said that Section 144 had now been imposed at all beaches in Karachi till further orders.
"With the help of Navy rescuers we recovered 27 bodies on August 1 and than nine on the following day," he said. Siddiqui added most of the people drowned at Clifton Seaview, a popular spot for holiday makers.
An Advocate, Nadeem Sheikh on Saturday also submitted a petition in the Sindh High Court over the apparent lack of a contingency plan to prevent such tragedy. The petitioner claimed that the institutions concerned should have formulated an emergency plan for the beaches before Eid-ul-fitr holidays knowing that thousands of people visit the beaches during holidays.
The petition has made the Sindh government and Inspector General Sindh Police a party to the application. He also called for a a thorough inquiry of the incident.
Officials and rescue personnel had said that this was the highest death toll in any tragedy on Karachi's beaches in recent history. Officials, moreover, put the onus on picnickers for not being careful while swimming in rough seas amid poor security and administrative arrangements.
Siddiqui said many of the recovered bodies were of people who had come from other parts of the country mainly Pishin and Quetta in Baluchistan to celebrate Eid. "We still don't know how many more bodies will be recovered because we have got conflicting figures and complaints from affected families and people so far," he said.