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Jul 31, 3:27 AM EDT

19 swimmers drown off Pakistan beaches

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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) -- At least 19 people have drowned off southern Pakistani beaches because of heavy waves and strong currents, rescuers said Thursday.

Shoaib Sadiqui, the administrator of Pakistan's largest city Karachi, said the victims ignored safety warnings and drowned Wednesday. 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.

Farooq Baluch, the director of Pakistan's largest private emergency service, said rescuers had recovered 19 bodies from the water near the southern city.

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

"This is a very sad incident, and we are using all of our resources to trace and rescue some of the remaining missing people," he said. "We had imposed a ban on bathing and swimming on the beaches due to bad weather in the sea, but some people ignored safety warnings and drowned."

Pakistani private news channels showed relatives of the dead and missing crying on the beach.

Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and thousands of people visit its beaches during holidays.

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