Officials in Pakistan say at least 17 members of a wedding party died when their boat capsized in a river in Punjab province during some of the worst monsoon flooding the region has seen in decades.
The dead include the bridegroom, his brother, and two young children. At least 30 people were on the boat when it rolled over in Muzaffargarh district near the city of Multan Sunday.
The bride said she survived by hanging onto an electric pole. She had gone on the boat against her parents’ advice.
Floods and landslides from days of heavy monsoon rains have now claimed almost 500 lives in Pakistan and India. Pakistan, which has suffered a series of annual flood disasters since 2010, says as many as 2.3 million people have been affected.
The flooding has been particularly bad in the Indian-controlled parts of Kashmir and in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province.
There are mounting fears about shortages of medicine and possible epidemics caused by waterborne diseases because many hospitals have been submerged in floodwaters. Medical camps have been set up on higher ground to handle the thousands of people coming in with various illnesses.
South Asia monsoon season lasts from June to September, with the rains being vital for the region’s agriculture.