18 women drown and dozens missing after boat carrying 100 people capsizes in Pakistan

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At least 21 people, including 18 women and children, have been killed in Pakistan after a boat carrying a wedding party of over 100 people capsized in the Indus river on Monday.

As rescue operations resumed on Tuesday, officials said the bodies of 21 people have been recovered so far and handed over to their relatives.

At least 65 people, including the bridegroom, were rescued on Monday, but 29 people, including children, are still missing, government official Saleem Assi was quoted as saying to the Associated Press.

He added that the missing passengers are feared dead. Their relatives are still waiting hopefully along the riverbank to witness the rescue operation.

On Monday, the wedding party was returning from Khrore in Rajanpur district to Solangi village in Sadiqabad, a sub-district of Punjab province, reported Dawn.

Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz has directed rescue teams to speed up operations.

In addition, federal foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah have also directed authorities in Kashmore district to provide assistance in rescue efforts.

Kashmore district is the closest area in Sindh to Sadiqabad.

According to police spokesperson Saif Ali Wains, a team reached the spot and rescued 45 people initially with the help of locals.

He added that the information about the boat capsizing was received late as the tragedy occurred in the middle of the river where there is no cell phone connectivity.

Officials said most of those who drowned appeared to be women.

“Most of the drowned appear to be women” because “most of the men knew how to swim,” police officer Mohammad Hammad was quoted as saying to AFP.

“The death toll may increase,” he added.

On Monday, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif offered his condolences to the victims in a Twitter statement and said he was “saddened” by the loss of lives.

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