THATTA – At least 18 people are dead and 20 others have been rescued after a boat carrying religious devotees of Dawoodi Bohra Community, capsized near Thatta, reported local media on Thursday.

Five women, six men, and three children died in the incident, rescue sources reported, adding that 47 passengers were rescued and shifted to the hospital.

Around 80 pilgrims, including women and children, were on their way to a shrine ‘mela’ (fair) when their boat capsized in the open sea, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Thatta Haseeb Afzal said, adding that the boat was overloaded with passengers.

SSP Afzal further said that the incident took place near the shore and 52 passengers were successfully offboarded by rescue sources.

According to local rescue officials, the passengers were devotees seeking to attend the annual Urs celebration of a Sufi saint. They are believed to be members of the Dawoodi Bohra community.

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

Different officials have placed the number of passengers on board between 50-100.

Deputy Commissioner (DC) Thatta Nasir Baig said the boat was carrying 60-70 passengers. At least 15 bodies have been recovered, according to officials at the Mirpur Sakro Taluqa Hospital.

The DC Thatta said the accident took place as the overloaded boat lost balance and tipped over in a creek 30 kilometers away from Bohara. He added that the boat was carrying passengers traveling to the shrine of Pir Pathai to celebrate a festival.

Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum 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.

Rescue operation continues: 

Pakistan Navy teams left for the site of the incident for a rescue operation on Wednesday evening, a Navy spokesperson said, adding that rescue boats were also dispatched.

Divers, medical personnel, and rescue staff are part of the Navy’s rescue team.