Greece boat tragedy: At least 209 Pakistanis were on board, data suggests

Published June 22, 2023
A undated handout photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants onboard a boat during a rescue operation, before their boat capsized on the open sea, off Greece, June 14. — Reuters
A undated handout photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants onboard a boat during a rescue operation, before their boat capsized on the open sea, off Greece, June 14. — Reuters

There were at least 209 Pakistani “victims” on an overloaded boat that capsized and sank in open seas off Greece last week, according to data shared by the Federal Investigation Agency with Reuters on Thursday.

Witness accounts suggested that between 400 and 750 people had crammed onto the 20- to 30 metre-long (65- to 100-foot) fishing boat which then capsized and sank early on June 14 about 50 miles (80 km) from the southern coastal town of Pylos.

The official death toll from the accident still stands at 82 and the number of survivors at 104, of whom 12 were Pakistanis.

Hundreds of people from different countries are believed to have been on board the vessel, in what is seen as the worst sea disaster in years for the region.

The FIA told Reuters today that the figure of 209 Pakistani victims aboard is based on information provided by families who came forward to say a relative of theirs had boarded the boat heading from Libya towards Greece and were still missing.

“An investigation to verify this is underway,” FIA Islamabad Zone Director Rana Abdul Jabbar said.

Meanwhile, the government is yet to officially confirm how many of its citizens were on the boat, but kick-started a DNA sampling effort to help Greece identify those who died.

The data shared by the FIA showed that 181 people were from Pakistan and 28 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Officials gathered the DNA samples from 201 families.

Earlier today, at a weekly press briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the country was in contact with authorities in Greece and investigations regarding the circumstances of the incident were underway.

State broadcaster a Radio Pakistan report quoted her as saying that Pakistan’s Mission in Greece had worked round the clock for the recovery and identification of Pakistani nationals who were missing or feared dead.

“Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has also spoken to his Greek counterpart to discuss arrangements for the recovery of the missing, identification of the bodies and providing relief to the survivors and our efforts will continue in this regard,” Zahrah added.

FIA says 54 cases registered against human smugglers

Separately, in a statement issued today, an FIA spokesperson said that 54 cases had been registered against human smugglers in Lahore, Gujranwala and Gujrat.

He said FIA’s Lahore Zone had arrested 17 traffickers so far while seven suspects were captured in Gujrat, two in Lahore and eight in Gujranwala.

“The Anti-Human Trafficking Circle in Lahore has registered five cases, 18 cases have been registered in Gujrat and 31 in Gujranwala,” the agency said.

It further stated that 167 DNA samples of the kin of those killed in the Greece shipwreck had been collected. The samples, FIA added, would be used in identifying the victims.

The spokesperson vowed that those involved in human smuggling would be brought to justice and FIA teams were conducting raids on information received from the families of the victims.

“A crackdown on the basis of intelligence is being done to arrest all the suspects in the Greece boat tragedy and a new plan is being drafted to prevent such incidents from taking place in the future,” the FIA added.

Opinion

Rule by law

Rule by law

‘The rule of law’ is being weaponised, taking on whatever meaning that fits the political objectives of those invoking it.

Editorial

Isfahan strikes
Updated 20 Apr, 2024

Isfahan strikes

True de-escalation means Israel must start behaving like a normal state, not a rogue nation that threatens the entire region.
President’s speech
20 Apr, 2024

President’s speech

PRESIDENT Asif Ali Zardari seems to have managed to hit all the right notes in his address to the joint sitting of...
Karachi terror
20 Apr, 2024

Karachi terror

IS urban terrorism returning to Karachi? Yesterday’s deplorable suicide bombing attack on a van carrying five...
X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...