Pakistan Eid: At least 20 bathers drown in Karachi

Members of family stand watching rescue operation on Karachi beach on 31 July 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Relatives of the missing gathered on the beach awaiting word of their loved ones

At least 20 bathers have drowned and three are still missing in rough seas off the Pakistani city of Karachi despite a ban on sea swimming during the monsoon, officials say.

The bathers were among thousands who flocked to Clifton Beach to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

The victims include three members of the same family, as well as a 12-year-old boy, according to local media.

A ban on sea swimming was imposed at the start of monsoon season in June.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rescue workers used helicopters to retrieve the bodies from the sea
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Large numbers thronged to the beach to celebrate Eid, which began in Pakistan on Tuesday

A search operation is under way with the help of navy divers and a helicopter, Karachi commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui said.

The victims ignored safety warnings and drowned in high winds and strong currents, he added, quoted by Associated Press.

Two of the bodies were recovered from another beach at Hawke's Bay, Dawn news website reports.

"The government imposed a ban on swimming in the sea before the start of the monsoon season in June and police were deployed to implement the ban, but people became violent," senior police officer Ibadat Nisar is quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

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