On June 5, seven children drowned in Sindh, Pakistan and their bodies were reportedly transported in a truck used to ferry fish waste because “there was no petrol” to get an ambulance. The parents of the deceased are asking to hold the police and health officials responsible.
Pakistani media outlets reported that the incident happened at the Indus River in a village near Thatta last Friday.
The parents of the children claimed that no help was sent to them despite them reaching out to relevant officials nor were the children provided timely medical aid.
‘The poor have no voice’
According to Dad Ali Marri, the father of two children among the drowned, the family had immediately called the Madadgar-15 police helpline after the incident but nobody responded.
“Our calls remained unanswered because we are poor. The poor have no voice,” he was quoted as saying.
“And at the hospital, too, there was no doctor to attend to our children and save their lives,” he added.
Reportedly, fishermen present at the site were able to pull all seven children out of the water within half an hour.
“They [the children] were rushed to the nearest hospital, two kilometres away from the site of the incident,” Marri was quoted as saying, adding that by the time they reached the hospital, only two of the children were alive.
“But there was no doctor and the lower staff and a dispenser at the facility did not have the capability to save them. There was no immediate medical help available for the children and, eventually, all of them died,” he added.
No petrol for ambulance
It was also reported that the family of the deceased were denied assistance when they requested the hospital staff for an ambulance to transport the bodies back to their village.
“They told us that they had run out of fuel for the ambulance,” Marri was quoted as saying.
With no other option, villagers had to take the bodies back in a mini-truck.
Besides his children, the drowned include two of his nieces and three nephews.
“The government must come to the aid of the poor who approach authorities crying for help,” Marri added.
It was also reported that no one besides a sub-inspector visited the family so far.
Social media users demand better healthcare in Sindh
Twitter user @wafawaseem shared a picture of the drowned children in the back of the truck and wrote: “Sad news! These innocent seven children, being carried on the back of an old truck, were drowned into the river near Jhirk, Thatta. The authorities did not even provide the ambulance to them. This is #Thatta.”
Tweep @_merajhasan shared a video from the scene and posted: “Seven children died in Sindh by drowning in Indus River. There was no ambulance to transfer the dead bodies and so a mini-truck had to be used. #SindhHealth”
Following the incident, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) parliamentarians demanded the provincial health minister to suspend Sindh government’s agreement with MERF (Medical Emergency Resilience Foundation), the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that looks after 13 public health facilities in Thatta and Sujawal districts, and sought an apology from Thatta deputy commissioner for failing to help the families of those who died.