ISLAMABAD (AP) — Severe flooding sank a boat carrying a wedding party in Pakistan's Punjab province on Sunday, killing the bridegroom and 17 others, officials said.
Senior police officer Mian Tanvir from the nearby city of Multan said the army-run boat carrying over 30 people capsized when it hit debris from a dike that had been blown up earlier in the day to divert waters away from urban areas.
"Divers are searching for the remainders," he said, adding that 18 passengers had been rescued. The army later said in a statement that an officer had drowned while helping in rescue efforts.
Local television showed footage of emergency workers and the wailing father of the bridegroom. The bride was among the rescued.
"We were many people in the boat and water started seeping in and eventually it overturned," she told a reporter from a local television channel, which did not give her name. "I don't know who survived and who we lost."
Separately, three people drowned in the area overnight, senior provincial rescue official Ali Imam Syed said. The deaths, combined with those from the boat tragedy, brought the overall death toll from flooding in Pakistan to 301, he added.
Ahmed Kamal, spokesman for Pakistan's disaster management agency, said the heavy rains and flooding had also injured more than 500 people in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir. He said more than 2 million people had been affected.
Some 276,681 people have been evacuated from flood-hit areas while 1.4 million acres of crops and more than 40,000 houses have been either partly or completely destroyed in over 3,000 villages, he added.
Meanwhile, in Indian Kashmir, anger mounted as people accused the government of having been slow to respond to the floods that hit the Himalayan region. Some pelted rescue officials and police boats with stones in Srinagar, the area's main city.
Army troops and India's disaster response force personnel have been carrying out rescue operations since the past week, using helicopters to pick up people stranded on roof tops and tree tops. So far, the army and disaster response teams have evacuated nearly 200,000 people, who are now in relief camps set up in government buildings in safe places.
More than 200 people have died in Indian-controlled Kashmir in the floods. The flood waters have begun to recede over the past three days, but are leaving a trail of destruction. Tens of thousands of families have lost all their possessions.
As residents returned to their water-logged homes, angry residents pelted boats and relief officials with stones in some neighborhoods in of Indian Kashmir.
George reported from New Delhi.