At least 12 people, including three teenagers, of two families drowned at Karachi’s Hawksbay beach on Saturday evening after they were swept away by strong waves, police officials said.
The incident occurred when the families were picnicking at the popular beach despite the ban on swimming imposed by the provincial government’s Home Department during the monsoon season due to rough waters.
Sharing details of the incident, Karachi-South DIG Azad Khan informed Dawn.com that the tragedy occurred when one child got stuck in a ‘whirlpool’ near Turtle Beach and the others drowned while trying to save the child.
The deceased include a man, his teenage son and daughter, and two brothers, he added.
Mauripur police said that the residents of Nazimabad had arrived at Sandspit Beach, also known as Turtle Beach, for a picnic.
The DIG South said that the family members were prevented from swimming "multiple times" and at one point, they had even started gotten into their vehicle in order to return home. "However, one child ostensibly got stuck in the 'ditch' which led to this unfortunate incident."
The senior police official further said that the beach police post in-charge, Sub-Inspector Ismail, has been suspended over his failure to implement the ban on swimming.
According to Edhi Foundation spokesperson Saad Edhi, all 12 bodies have been recovered and sent to the hospital for fulfilling legal formalities.
“During the last month, at least 33 people have drowned whose bodies were recovered from the city's beaches,” Saad Edhi told Dawn.com.
He suggested that the authorities should bar the picnickers from coming to the beach, especially during this rough season.
“Immediate steps are needed at beaches to prevent such tragedies,” said Karachi mayor.
He mentioned that there were at least 30 life guards performing duty at Hawksbay beach who try to save people's lives.
In May 2017, the Sindh government imposed Section 144, banning wading/swimming/diving in the sea off the beaches of Karachi for six months with immediate effect.
The SHOs of all relevant police stations had been authorised to register complaints under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code against violators of this notification.
However, it appeared that the authorities failed to implement the ban on swimming, which prompted Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah to take notice of Saturday's drownings.
“I want a detailed report about how this incident occured,” said the chief minister while extending sympathy and grief towards the bereaved families.
Police officials have repeatedly complained that a large number of people head to the beaches on public holidays, making it impossible for them to cope with the situation with their limited resources.