More than 300 Pakistanis died in the sinking of a migrant boat in the Mediterranean

In this undated photo released by the Greek Coast Guard on June 14, 2023, dozens of people cover virtually all the free space on the deck of a fishing boat that wrecked and later sank off southern Greece. (Coast Guard from Greece via AP) (Uncredited/)

More of 300 Pakistani citizens died in the shipwreck of a fishing boat off the coast of Greecethe latest tragedy that reveals the refugee crisis which is faced by European Union.

The President of the Senate of Pakistan, Muhammad Sadiq Sanjranireleased the figures in a statement on Sunday, sending condolences to the families of those killed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and we pray that departed souls find eternal peace,” Sanjrani said. “This devastating incident underscores the urgent need to address and condemn the heinous act of illegal human trafficking”.

The fishing boat packed with migrants capsized and sank early Wednesday off southwest of Greece in one of the deadliest incidents in history in the Mediterranean central. The ship was carrying up to 800 people, including dozens of Pakistanis, when it sank in international waters. Since then she has been running a search and rescue operation.

The Greek authorities still They have not confirmed the number of fatalities from Pakistan.

Shipwreck survivors sleep in a warehouse in the port of Kalamata, southwest of Athens (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, file) (Thanassis Stavrakis/)

The Pakistani authorities announced the arrest of about twenty suspectsincluding two suspected key traffickers in Pakistan, and at least 12 people involved in sending young people to Libya for their trip to Europe.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office, Shehbaz Sharif, indicated that the Pakistani government had ordered a high-level investigation into the people smuggling network allegedly involved.

According to the police report, one of the detainees admitted sending three men to the boat, which holds 300-350 people, and charging each of them up to three million Pakistani rupees (about $10,450).

The assessment that there were up to 800 people on board comes from initial investigations, police officer Riaz Mughal said.

“Thanks to two survivors, the detained suspects and the relatives of the deceased, we know that between 750 and 800 people were on the boat,” Mughal told the news agency. Reuters.

Witnesses had put the number of people on board at between 400 and 750. The Greek authorities have reported that 104 survivors and 78 bodies have been washed ashore.

Survivors receive first aid care after a rescue ( via AP)
Survivors receive first aid care after a rescue ( via AP) (Uncredited/)

Meanwhile, the search and rescue operation continues, but the chances of finding any more survivors are slim.

On Monday they met two other bodies in the search area, reported the Greek coast guard. He added that they were being transferred to the southern port of Kalamata for identification.

Meanwhile, a Greek court postponed until Tuesday the hearing of some Egyptians accused of being human traffickers to give them and their lawyers time to review the testimonies of nine Syrian and Pakistani survivors, offered over the weekend.

The Egyptians, who apparently were identified as members of a smuggling ring by some of the survivors, they face charges of participation in a criminal organization, causing a shipwreck and endangering lives.

day of mourning in pakistan

With no definitive death toll yet announced, families feared for the fate of their loved ones and the nation observed a day of mourning on Monday, declared by Sharif’s government.

The flag of Pakistan It was flying at half mast and lawmakers from the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, expressed their condolences.

Desperate for a better life, many Pakistanis pay up to $8,000 to traffickers to smuggle them to Europe via Iran, Libya and Turkey.

The ship that sank (REUTERS)
The ship that sank (REUTERS) (Hellenic Coast Guard /)

Meanwhile, the relatives of the disappeared prayed for them. The student Sawan Race20, said his brother, Ali Reza, 28, was trying to reach Europe with the help of traffickers to find a better job.

We are waiting for a miracle and miracles happen,” Sawan told the news agency PA by phone from the city of Gujrat.

Relatives of the ship’s passengers gathered outside the court, chanting the names of their loved ones, Greek media reported.

Other relatives arrived at an immigration detention center in Malakasa, north of the capital Athens, trying to locate relatives known to be on the ship. About 20 people were able to enter a restricted area next to the facilities: they spoke to relatives through the fence, passing them documents, snacks and soft drinks.

Zohaib Shamraiza Pakistani who lives in Barcelona, ​​did not know if his 40-year-old uncle, Nadeem Muhammadwas alive five days after the perilous journey.

“I spoke to him five minutes before he got on the boat. I told him not to go. I was afraid. He told me that he had no choice,” Shamraiz told PA.

Pakistan - immigrants
Zohaib Shamraiz holds a photograph of his missing uncle, Nadeem Muhamm, 40 (AP/Petros Giannakouris) (Petros Giannakouris/)

In their last conversation, Muhamm described how smugglers carrying swords made him board the boat with other people, Shamraiz explained. “He told me that there were too many people, but if (the passengers) didn’t get on the ship, they would be killed.”

Shamraiz traveled to Greece on Monday to try to locate his uncle and provide a dna sample to compare those recovered from the corpses.

“I tried to find news. I checked the news in Pakistan and everywhere I could find. I had to come look for my uncle.”, said. Her uncle, who was traveling alone, is married with three small children in Pakistan.

He is very poor and was trying to help his family have a better life, Shamraiz said.

Duccio Staderiniresponsible for Greece for the international charity Doctors without borders (MSF), said smuggling networks were getting stronger due to migration “bottlenecks” stemming from Europe’s strict border policies.

“The smugglers, these criminal networks, are springing up because of these bottlenecks,” he told PA after visiting survivors in Malakasa. “And it’s getting worse and uglier.”

(With information from Reuters and AP)

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