Asia - Pacific

Pakistan mourns loss of young lives in Greek shipwreck

National flag flying at half-mast as federal police, on Prime Minister Sharif's orders, arrest 3 people, including 'key suspect,' in connection with boat tragedy

Kiran Butt  | 19.06.2023 - Update : 19.06.2023
Pakistan mourns loss of young lives in Greek shipwreck

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan 

Pakistan observed a day of mourning on Monday to express their sorrow over the last week's tragic boat sinking incident off the coast of southern Greece, in which at least 78 irregular immigrants died and 500 others remain missing in the Mediterranean Sea. 

According to 104 survivors of the June 14 tragedy, there were 700 people on the ill-fated trawler, many of whom were from Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria.

There were approximately 400 Pakistanis on the boat making the perilous journey to Europe, local media reported.

However, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told Anadolu that the government does not have an accurate number of Pakistanis. "Twelve Pakistanis have been identified among the survivors," she added.

The overcrowded vessel set off from Libya and was heading to Italy when it sank close to the deepest area of the Mediterranean Sea off the southern coast of Greece.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif declared a national day of mourning, flying the national flag at half-mast.

He also ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other law enforcement to arrest those involved in the illegal trafficking of people and formed a four-member committee to investigate the facts.

"In order to ascertain facts in the wake of the tragic incident of the capsizing of the boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Greece, I have ordered a high-level inquiry. FIA and other law enforcement agencies have been tasked to tighten the noose around the individuals involved in the heinous act of human smuggling," he tweeted.

An FIA official told Anadolu, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, that law enforcement has conducted raids in the central-eastern Punjab province districts of Mandi Bahauddin and Gujrat, which are considered hotspots for illegal human trafficking to Europe.

Three people have been arrested so far, he added.

However, the FIA stated in a tweet on Sunday night that it arrested a suspect from Karachi airport who was also accused in a previous case involving human smuggling to Libya.

The suspect, Sajid Mehmood, had been hiding for several days before being apprehended while attempting to flee to Azerbaijan, according to Dawn newspaper.

Mehmood hails from Mandi Bahauddin and had received 2.5 million Pakistani rupees (approximately $8,700) from victims of the boat tragedy for their illegal journey to Europe, the daily said, citing the FIA.

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