Body of man drowned in Thames off Canary Wharf flown to Pakistan

Relatives of a 30-year-old man who drowned in the Thames after falling from Canary Wharf Pier in East London have spoken for the first time this week of their grief.

Umer Anjum died despite a massive search operation—while his friend Linda who lived in the same building was rescued and was later recovering in hospital.

Umer’s family in Pakistan were told he was missing after the couple had been spotted in the river during the night of June 29.

Umer—a non swimmer—had fallen from the pier and Linda jumped in the water in a vain attempt to save him.

His aunt living in East London, Yasmin Shekh, read of the search on the Archant website later that morning.

Her husband then received a message to call in at Limehouse police station while the search was still going on—the body was eventually found the other side of the river at Rotherhithe.

“It had been a long and painful process of going through the post mortem and formal identification,” she said.

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“His parents, two sisters and other immediate family had an agonising wait of 11 days in Pakistan.”

Funeral arrangements were made for repatriating his body back to Pakistan for burial.

A service was held at the East London Mosque on July 8 before the body was flown out the following day, to be taken to his parent’s home in Rawalpindi.

“There was a gathering in thousands for his final funeral prayer in the square of his ancestral home,” his aunt added.

“All the shops and bazaars remained shut in respect until after the burial.

“He leaves behind an ailing father, distraught mother and two sisters who are totally devastated. We miss Umer very much—he was our sunshine boy.”

Umer came to London as a 23-year-old student and completed a university business management course. He wanted to start his own business in Pakistan and was planning to return next year.

He lived in Stratford, working part-time in a supermarket while a student, then got a job last year as manager of Firawani minimarket at Forest Gate.

Umer moved nearby, where he met the women he was with that night.

“Linda lived in the same building and they got on well and became close friends,” his aunt recalled. “She is traumatised by this incident and I suppose feeling guilty that she survived and Umer did not.

“We just cannot understand what possessed him to go to the pier that time of night—he had a phobia of water and never learned to swim.

“Obviously he stood no chance when he fell in the water. Linda jumped after him on impulse—but had to be rescued.”

A massive search by police launches, coastguards, fire brigade, Tower lifeboat and Port of London Authority failed to locate Umer, whose body was eventually recovered at low tide 18 hours later.

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