16 Pakistani survivors of Italy boat tragedy in ‘good physical condition’

admin 28 February, 2023
Updated 2023/02/28 at 9:47 AM
5 Min Read
This photo obtained from Italian news agency Ansa taken on February 26 2023

Four Pakistani nationals are reportedly missing, says foreign ministry

CUTRO: At least sixteen Pakistanis have been amongst those rescued however four were pronounced lacking after their overloaded boat sank early on Sunday in stormy seas off Italy’s southern Calabria vicinity, consistent with the overseas ministry on Monday.

Italy’s coastguard searched the sea and beaches for our bodies following the shipwreck, as authorities attempted to perceive the lifeless and the government’s migrant policy came underneath scrutiny.

A Pakistani official tasked with preventing human trafficking informed AFP that the wide variety of people looking to depart Pakistan changed into growing due to the fact “of the deterioration within the monetary situation and shortage paintings”.

The official said on condition of anonymity that there were an estimated 40,000 Pakistanis trying to enter European countries each year.

The boat was reported to have set sail from Izmir in Turkey last week. Three suspected human traffickers were arrested and police were searching for a fourth, media reports said Monday.

The overloaded wooden boat broke up and sank early Sunday in stormy seas off Italy’s southern coast, with bodies, shoes and debris washing up along a long stretch of shoreline.

The death toll rose Monday to 62 people, a coast guard official told AFP — and that number looked likely to increase.

Sergio di Dato, head of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) team offering psychological support to the survivors, said there were cases of children orphaned in the disaster.

“One Afghan 12-year-old boy lost his entire family, all nine of them — four siblings, his parents and other very close relatives,” he told journalists.

At Le Castella, where a 15th-century fortress dominates the shoreline, an AFP journalist witnessed the coastguard recovering the body of a woman who looked to be in her early 20s.

‘Many missing minors’

Local officials said the search was ongoing for around 20 people still believed missing, though survivors have given differing versions as to how many people were originally on the boat.

Forensic police set about identifying the victims, issuing an email address to which relatives searching for loved ones could send distinguishing details, from eye and hair colour to tattoos or piercings.

The Save the Children charity said on Twitter it was supporting survivors from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria, including 10 minors who had been travelling with their families.

“There are many missing minors,” it wrote.

The charity said survivors described how “during the night, near the coast, they heard a loud boom, the boat broke and they all fell into the water.”

The survivors were “in shock… some say they saw relatives fall into the water and disappear, or die”.

Twins found dead

David Morabito, a rescue diver in Calabria, told Rai state broadcaster he had recovered the bodies of young twins from the water.

“When you see the little, lifeless bodies of children, those images pierce your heart,” Morabito said.

“So many children dead. A tragedy,” he added.

The disaster has further fuelled the debate in Italy over search and rescue measures for saving migrants who run into trouble on the Central Mediterranean route, which is the world’s deadliest.

Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, elected in September, has pledged to curb migrant arrivals.

She said Sunday the government was “committed to preventing (migrant boat) departures and, with them, this type of tragedy”, while her interior minister Matteo Paintedosi simply said “they must not set sail”.

Their reactions were “a sad buck-passing, yet another slap in the face of the victims and survivors of this tragedy”, MSF Italy’s programmes director Marco Bertotto said Monday.

“Sea rescue must not be confused with illegal immigration. We need patrolling on the high seas and coordination,” he told journalists.

Meloni’s government pushed through a controversial law last week that forces migrant aid charities to perform only one life-saving rescue mission at a time before heading directly to ports, which are often far away.

Critics say the measure violates international law and will result in more people drowning.

According to the interior ministry, nearly 14,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, up from 5,200 over the same period last year.

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