DERA ISMAIL KHAN:
Five children from the same family, including a girl, drowned while bathing in a pond in Chit Sarkani locality of the Choti area.
Amid complaints of delay in a rescue operation, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar sought an immediate report from the commissioner of Dera Ghazi Khan.
The incident took place near Chit Sarkani Road when three Mujahid, Wasim, Muskan, Rizwan and Aslam, aged between seven and 10, were bathing in the pond in their settlement Jeevan Jindani. One of the children slipped into deep water and the others jumped in to save him. However, all of them drowned.
Upon coming to know about the incident, some local people jumped into the pond and pulled the children out of the water. They took the children to a local doctor but they had died.
Rescue 1122 teams also reached the spot later, prepared a report about the incident and handed over the bodies to the heirs.
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The children’s uncles Abdul Aziz and Talib Hussain complained that they had called the Rescue 1122 helpline thrice but were informed that no car was available.
Calling for an inquiry into the incident, they said the children might have been saved in case of immediate help from the rescue service.
A local resident Rashid Hussain, told The Express Tribune that the water had accumulated in the low-lying area after the authorities carried out some work for the Rod Kohi mountain irrigation system two years ago.
Among the deceased children, Mujahid and Rizwan were brothers and the three others were their cousins.
Chief Minister Buzdar condoled with the bereaved family and sought a report from the divisional commissioner.
A Choti police team led by DSP Munawar Buzdar also reached the spot and started an investigation into the incident.
Two lives are lost daily on average in cases of drowning in Punjab, according to official figures.
Due to negligence of the citizens, the authorities, or both, at least 500 people lost lives due to drowning throughout Punjab in as many as 883 incidents reported so far this year, the data available with The Express Tribune shows.
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Over four drowning emergencies were reported in the province daily during the period. The data showed at least one incident of drowning took place every week in every third district of Punjab.
Over 30 cases of drowning took place in 12 of the 36 districts of the province during the ongoing year by July 25.
The highest number of incidents in a district was 78, reported in Lahore, while Sheikhupura accounted for the most deaths, 34. At least 31 people died due to drowning in Rahim Yar Khan, 30 in Faisalabad and 29 in Jehlum.
The data showed that the number of drowning emergencies in Faisalabad was 53, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot and Mianwali 46 each, Multan 34, Gujranwala 31, Dera Ghazi Khan 38, Bahawalpur 35, Sahiwal 30, Attock 35 and Sheikhupura 33.
Of the 697 people affected in the incidents, 54 were discharged by Rescue 1122 after first aid and 143 were shifted to hospitals.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2021.