A small village in southern Yemen is in mourning after seven girls from one family drowned in a pond.
A local health official said the tragedy occurred on Thursday evening when the children, aged from 8 to 12, were grazing livestock about five kilometres from their home in Al Mahfed, Abyan province.
“Seven young girls from the Ashagea family in Hasamah village drowned in a natural pond in the mountainous area,” the official told The National.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Saleh Haidara, a resident of the area. “It wasn’t a matter of a victim or two – they were seven cousins from one family. Two of them were sisters.”
Two younger girls saw their sisters drown but were unable to help. They returned to the village for assistance.
“They went grazing and one of the them slid into the pond and her sister jumped to rescue her, but they both didn’t resurface, so the other girls jumped into the pond attempting to rescue the two sisters,” said Mukhtar Saleh Omar, a neighbour of the family.
“The problem was that all the girls weren’t good at swimming,” he said.
“There was nobody there to help except two the little girls, who kept crying and shouting for help,” said the health official, who attended the girls’ funeral on Friday.
The official said an ambulance team sent to retrieve the bodies could not reach the pond because the road through mountainous terrain was too poor.
“It took more than two hours to carry out the bodies on their shoulders,” he said.
Several people have drowned in southern Yemen after torrential rain in Abyan, Shabwa, Al Mahrah and other provinces.
In Shabwa, four women and a child drowned on July 21 after rain in the western district of Bayhan, residents told The National.
Two people drowned in Al Mahrah after being swept away by flash floods following heavy rains in the province.
In May, four people died and more than 84 families were made homeless when torrential rains caused flooding in the historical city of Tarim, in Hadramawt province.
Yemen’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority has issued several warnings for people to stay vigilant because heavy rainfall is expected in many parts of the country.