Tanda tragedy: Body of drowned student retrieved, death toll reaches 52

The last body was retrieved from the Tanda Dam in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Kohat district on Friday by the Pakistan Army — five days after the horrific tragedy occurred — bringing the total death count of drowned students to 52.

“On the orders of Chief of Army Staff [Gen Asim Munir], Pakistan Army SSG, and corps of engineers troops found out the body of last missing student. The operation continued for 48 hours till the time Army divers found the last missing body,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on Friday.

The statement further added that the five students had been rescued alive. “All deceased 52 students and staff have been found. The army diving teams of SSG, army engineers and Rescue 1122 also rescued five students alive from Tanda Dam.”

Rescuers had been looking for the last body since Tuesday. The rescued students were earlier shifted to District Hospital Kohat, while the search for one missing individual was ongoing since then.

The children and teachers drowned when their overloaded boat capsized in the lake on Sunday, police said.

The boys, aged between seven and 14, were all students of a madrassah and had been taken for a day trip to the scenic popular weekend tourist destination over the weekend.

"The water of the dam was freezing due to cold weather that impeded the rescue mission. But the divers were able to dive deep to recover the remaining bodies," said Khateer Ahmad, a senior official with Rescue 1122 on Tuesday.

Muhammad Umar, who sells tea at a picnic site overlooking the lake, said dozens of parents and relatives had gathered over the past few days.

"Every time a body was recovered from the scene, they would jump onto the diver to see if it was their son, and every time we would hear them screaming in pain and anguish," he told AFP over the phone on Tuesday.

"I have not witnessed such scenes in my life, it's something that can't be explained in words," he added.

A police spokesperson told AFP that the incident was a result of overloading. More than 50 children and adults had been crammed in a boat with half its capacity.

"The boat’s capacity was around 20 to 25 persons," police spokesperson Fazal Naeem said.

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