350 Pakistanis were migrant on boat that sank off Greece

Killing scores of passengers in one of the deadliest incidents in the central Mediterranean Sea.

Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday confirmed that about 350 Pakistanis were aboard an overcrowded fishing boat which sank off Greece’s coast last week, killing scores of passengers in one of the deadliest incidents in the central Mediterranean Sea.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told Parliament that the boat which sank on June 14 was carrying around 700 people when it only had the capacity to carry 400 passengers.

“Among these, the number of Pakistani passengers on board as per the information that we have received so far is approximately 350,” he said, adding that 82 deceased Pakistani victims had been recovered.

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The minister said that 12 Pakistanis were among the total of 104 people who had survived. He said that the identification of the dead was going on and may take several days if not weeks and warned that the number of deceased may go up.

Sanaullah said that 281 families have contacted the government to know about the victims and the government so far has collected 193 DNA samples. The repatriation of bodies would follow once identification was completed.

The minister also rejected the idea that people from Pakistan illegally migrate by saying that about 99 per cent leaving for Europe adopt “legal means” but upon reaching countries such as Egypt, UAE, and Libya, they tend to opt for illegal routes.

Sanaullah revealed that the prime minister has established a committee to investigate the incident.

“I assure the house that we will spare no efforts, and a comprehensive set of recommendations will be proposed by the probe committee, which the government will diligently implement,” he said.

He also promised to further tighten laws to curb the practice of illegal movement of people to Europe and other countries.

The minister also announced to bring to law those involved in the heinous business of human smuggling.

Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in its crackdown has arrested 27 alleged human traffickers and registered 70 cases against smugglers involved in the Greece boat tragedy.

The dirty business of sending young people to Europe thrives in certain areas of Punjab and the Kashmir region of the country.

People spend thousands of dollars to get to Europe but not all of them make it to the desired shores.

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