Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency says at least 181 people from Pakistan and 28 from Pakistan-administered Kashmir are among the victims of one the worst sea disasters in the Mediterranean.
Published On 22 Jun 2023
At least 209 Pakistanis were among those who lost their lives in the boat wreck off Greece last week, according to data shared by a Pakistani investigative agency.
Information provided to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) by families of missing passengers known to have boarded the boat that capsized off Greece’s coast suggests the death toll may be significantly higher than official figures.
Greek authorities say the number of victims stands at 82 and the number of survivors at 104, of whom 12 were Pakistanis.
“An investigation to verify this is under way,” FIA Islamabad Zone Director Rana Abdul Jabbar told the Reuters news agency.
Data shared with the news agency showed that 181 among the missing passengers were from Pakistan and 28 from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
The FIA was tasked by the Pakistani government with handling investigations into the tragedy.
Pakistan 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. Officials gathered DNA samples from 201 families.
Hundreds of people of different nationalities, including Egyptians, Syrians and Palestinians, are believed to have been on board the vessel, in what is seen as the worst sea disaster in years for the region.
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 80km (50 miles) from the southern coastal town of Pylos.
The FIA said 29 suspected human smugglers had been arrested in Pakistan so far over the case.
Family members told Al Jazeera they paid 2.2 million Pakistani rupees ($7,718) for each of the travellers to “agents” who provide documentation for people looking to find financial opportunities abroad.
Among the Syrians still missing is a father who was desperately seeking cancer treatment for his son, Al Jazeera has learned.
Thaer al-Rahal, a 39-year-old who hails from the city of Inkhil, in the Daraa countryside, was a resident of the sprawling Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.
“Thaer did not like the idea of travelling to Europe, and he always dreamed of returning to his hometown. But the search for a cure for his son who had cancer prompted him to turn to the treacherous sea,” his cousin, Abdul Rahman al-Rahal, told Al Jazeera.
The tragedy off the coast of Greece was the third major incident recorded since February in which migrants and refugees from Pakistan lost their lives at sea.
Al Jazeera and news agencies