Pakistan village mourns 24 feared dead in Greek migrant tragedy

Dying hangs over the Pakistan village of Bandli, the place as many as 24 younger native males could also be among the many victims of final week’s Greek migrant boat tragedy (Sajjad QAYYUM)

Dying hangs over the Pakistan village of Bandli like a shroud, as residents take up information that as many as 24 younger native males could also be amongst a whole bunch feared drowned in final week’s Greek migrant boat tragedy.

The village, house to round 15,000, was in mourning as kinfolk supplied up DNA samples to determine our bodies among the many 82 recovered from final Wednesday’s shipwreck within the Ionian Sea.

A procession of holiday makers got here and went from the houses of households in misery, 95 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Islamabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

Dad and mom sat listlessly on the street and funeral prayers weren’t but held, because the faintest hope nonetheless lingered.

Shahnaz Bibi mentioned she spoke to her son Inaam Shafaat, 20, by telephone a day earlier than the overcrowded and rusty trawler set sail from Libya into Mediterranean waters on the world’s deadliest migrant route.

“At night time he informed me that the climate was not clear. I informed him to not go on the boat, however he would not hearken to me,” mentioned Bibi, in her 50s, having her DNA sampled at a neighborhood hospital.

“He mentioned, ‘Mom I go away you within the safety of Allah. Pray for me’,” she informed AFP, her voice hoarse from weeping as she dabbed tears away along with her scarf.

– Ship one other son –

Authorities in Europe nonetheless haven’t any clear thought how many individuals have been aboard the boat when it sank — estimates vary from 400 to over 700 — however doubtless a whole bunch got here from Pakistan, largely from essentially the most populous Punjab province and Pakistan administered Kashmir.

An official from the nation’s Federal Investigation Company informed AFP greater than 75 households have to date registered a lacking relative believed to be on board.

Sarfraz Khan Virk, a senior official from the FIA in Lahore, informed reporters that following earlier such disasters, many households have refused to talk to authorities.

“They mentioned that we need to ship a second son and we’ll undergo if you happen to file a case,” he mentioned.

“There are households who had despatched one brother to Italy and after a failed try with the second brother, need to ship the third one. So we now have many points and the persons are not cooperating with us.”

The nation is within the grip of a staggering financial downturn with runaway inflation, trade and imports hobbled, and a tumbling rupee sapping households’ talents to pay their method.

Pakistan administered Kashmir — the place Bandli nestles amongst lush rolling hills — has traditionally been a springboard for migrants, more and more pushed to make determined odysseys escaping hardship.

The jap area hosts a thriving black market of human smugglers and Islamabad to date says 15 have been arrested for alleged hyperlinks to the tragedy.

“What occurred to our brother should not occur to anybody else. Human trafficking has been on the rise, it is not going to cease,” mentioned Waheed Wazir, 38, whose youthful brother Imran, 32, is lacking.

“The human trafficking brokers who’re arrested shouldn’t be launched. They need to be publicly punished so no person dares to do such a factor sooner or later.”

The assistant commissioner of the native district Sardar Mushtaq Ahmad confirmed 24 folks had been reported lacking from the realm.

Migrant journeys from Pakistan to Europe are perilous. Travellers typically have solely patchy communication with kinfolk and the unlawful nature of the journey encourages them to put low.

With the vast majority of the passengers nonetheless reportedly misplaced at sea, the Bandli households cling to the dear closing phrases they heard from their kinfolk.

“My son had informed me that they have been boarding them on the boat. The climate was not good,” mentioned Tasleem Bibi, 48, already grieving her 20-year-old son Akash Gulzar.

“His voice regularly sank and he couldn’t communicate additional.”

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