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.

Editorial

Ominous demands
Updated 18 May, 2024

Ominous demands

The federal government needs to boost its revenues to reduce future borrowing and pay back its existing debt.
Property leaks
18 May, 2024

Property leaks

THE leaked Dubai property data reported on by media organisations around the world earlier this week seems to have...
Heat warnings
18 May, 2024

Heat warnings

STARTING next week, the country must brace for brutal heatwaves. The NDMA warns of severe conditions with...
Dangerous law
Updated 17 May, 2024

Dangerous law

It must remember that the same law can be weaponised against it one day, just as Peca was when the PTI took power.
Uncalled for pressure
17 May, 2024

Uncalled for pressure

THE recent press conferences by Senators Faisal Vawda and Talal Chaudhry, where they demanded evidence from judges...
KP tussle
17 May, 2024

KP tussle

THE growing war of words between KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur and Governor Faisal Karim Kundi is affecting...