Hundreds of Pakistanis Perish In Mediterranean Migrant Boat Disaster

Recent horrendous figures reveal more than 300 Pakistani nationals have been killed in the sinking of an overcrowded fishing trawler off the coast of Greece. Greek authorities have not yet confirmed Pakistan’s death toll. The boat sank about 80 kilometres off Greece’s southern town of Pylos on Wednesday, June 14.

Pakistan’s Freign Ministry has thus far confirmed that only 12 of the 78 survivors were from Pakistan. It is being estimated that there were about 400 Pakistanis on board. Pakistani’s Premier Shehbaz Sharif declared Monday (June 19 ), a national ‘Day of Mourning’ expressing solidarity with the families of the deceased. According to an official notification, Pakistan’s flag was to fly at half-mast to mourn the death of the Pakistani nationals in this tragedy.

Around 750 people including men, women and children were on the overly packed boat when it capsized last week, the United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) said. The UN’s human rights office claims up to 500 people are still missing. According to the EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, this is one of the worst tragedies in the Mediterranean Sea. Censuring the human smugglers Johansson said, “They are not sending them to Europe, they are sending them to death. This is what they’re doing and it’s absolutely necessary to prevent it.”

Nonetheless, there are contradictions as to what exactly prompted the boat to capsize. There are concerns and claims that it overturned in the early hours of Wednesday because a rope was attached by Greek coastguards, however, allegations were rejected by Greek officials. An analysis of the movement of other ships in the area suggests that the ill-fated fishing vessel was not moving for at least seven hours before it sank. The Greek coastguard, on the other hand claims that during these hours the boat was on a steady course to Italy.

Horrific testimonies surface, detailing that women and children were “locked up” in the hold, for the reason of protection from the men on board. For this reason, the chances of women or children survivors are bleak. It is also being claimed that Pakistani nationals were also kept below deck. There are reports that conditions on the boat were miserable that even before it sank there had already been six deaths after it ran out of fresh water.

Another new testimony indicates that the trawler’s engine failed days before it sank, which makes it highly likely that the crew would have sought help. “We started the journey at dawn on Friday. Around 700 of us were on board,” the migrant said. “We were travelling for three days and then the engine failed.”

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