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Greece shipwreck: At least 209 Pakistanis were on board, say officials

Investigation agency bases figure on testimonies from relatives of people believed to have been on board
Relatives of a man missing after the boat sunk off the coast of Greece, at the district hospital in Khuiratta in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, 20 June (Reuters)
Relatives of a man missing after the boat sunk off the coast of Greece, at the district hospital in Khuiratta in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, 20 June (Reuters)

At least 209 Pakistani nationals were on board the fishing boat carrying an estimated 750 people that sank last week, Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said on Wednesday.

The overloaded trawler capsized and sank off the coast of Greece last week, in what is viewed as the region’s deadliest sea disaster in years. The majority of its passengers on the boat were reportedly from Egypt, Syria and Pakistan.

The FIA, an agency which has been tasked by the Pakistani government with investigating the disaster, based the figure on testimonies gathered from families whose relatives were on board the trawler and are still reported missing.

According to the data, 181 people were from Pakistan and 28 from Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Currently, the death toll stands at 82, with an estimated 500 missing. Pakistan's foreign ministry has so far confirmed that only 12 of the 104 survivors are from Pakistan. Local media reports said around 300 people from Pakistan were likely on board.

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The Islamabad government is conducting DNA testing to help the Greek authorities identify victims.

According to eyewitness accounts, Pakistani passengers aboard the trawler, along with women and children, were forced below deck, the most dangerous part of the vessel. Survivors reported that children were “locked up” in the hold, in order to be “protected” by the men above deck.

Survivors also reported maltreatment of Pakistani passengers in the hold, who were beaten when they came above deck to request food and water.

No women or children are thought to be among the survivors of the wreck.

One survivor, a 24-year-old Pakistani national, reported that he had lost his wife and child in a testimony published on Greek news site Kathimerini.

Greece shipwreck: Coastguard 'watched' as boat sank, say survivors
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The overloaded trawler, measuring roughly 100 feet in length, sank in front of the Greek coast guard, who reportedly had been monitoring the distressed boat for days and decided not to intervene.

It was not until the vessel finally capsized that the coast guard enlisted the help of a superyacht to rescue survivors.

Testimonies that have emerged in the aftermath of the wreck have shed light on discrepancies in the coast guard’s official version of events, which claimed that the passengers refused their help.

Reports of the boat’s engine failing days before and pleas from the people aboard for assistance contradict the official Greek account.

Other questions have been raised around what prompted the boat to sink, including allegations of a botched attempt by the coast guard to tow the vessel, causing it to capsize. The claims have been rejected by the Greek officials.

Last week’s disaster is the latest major incident in the Mediterranean that has claimed the lives of Pakistani refugees. In February, more than 20 Pakistanis were among the 61 victims of another wreck off the coast of Calabria.

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