July 31, 2014 4:49 am

At least 19 swimmers drown in strong current off Pakistan beaches

Ambulances are pictured at the beachfront during ongoing recovery operations in search of missing bathers, feared drowned, at Clifton beach in Karachi on July 31, 2014. At least 19 bathers have drowned and four are missing in rough seas off Pakistan's biggest city Karachi, officials said, after defying a ban on swimming during the monsoon season. The bathers were among thousands who had taken to the beaches to celebrate the Eid holiday, which began on Tuesday and continues until Friday.

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

KARACHI, Pakistan – Rescuers say at least 19 people have drowned off southern Pakistan beaches because of heavy waves and strong currents.

Farooq Baluch, the director of Pakistan’s largest private emergency service, said Thursday that rescuers had pulled 19 bodies from the water near the southern city of Karachi.

City administrator Shoaib Sadiqui said the victims ignored safety warnings and drowned Wednesday due to a combination of high winds and strong current. He said a large number of people had gathered on the beaches to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Sadiqui said rescuers from the Pakistan navy and Baluch’s Edhi Foundation were still combing the waters for missing people.

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