The National Assembly Speaker, Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, urged the government on Saturday to “immediately investigate” the capsizing of a fishing boat earlier this week, which killed at least 78 persons, including Pakistanis.
According to a European rescue support charity, an overloaded boat with roughly 750 passengers on board sank in open seas off the coast of Greece on Wednesday.
The Foreign Office (FO) reported today that 104 people were recovered alive, including 12 Pakistanis among them, as a grueling search for survivors continued.
“At this time, we are unable to verify the number and identity of Pakistani nationals among the deceased,” it added in a tweet.
“The Pakistan Embassy in Greece remains in contact with local authorities for the identification and recovery of Pakistani nationals,” said the FO.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Embassy in Greece issued a statement requesting that Pakistanis who believed their relatives were on the crashed boat give DNA samples for body identification.
A short tandem repeat (STR) DNA result from a recognized laboratory of the missing person’s parents or children, along with the missing person’s identity card or passport number, should be forwarded to the Embassy’s email address, according to the statement.
NA speaker responds to MNA’s concerns
Speaker Ashraf, who convened a session of the National Assembly today, stated, “I think this is an extremely reprehensible act in which innocent people are made to face such situations by deceiving them of taking them abroad.”
He went on to ask the government to “take immediate notice and action” on the problem, saying that those responsible for the “heinous act should be given an exemplary punishment” so that such a crime does not happen again.
The comment was made in response to MNA Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali’s concerns over the situation.
MNA Chitrali stated on the floor of the National Assembly that media sources indicated that 310 Pakistanis had drowned in the event.
“According to eyewitnesses, only 18 people [out of those] could be saved,” he explained.
The Jamaat-i-Islami chief ordered that a report be created that included the names of individuals who had gone missing as well as the identities of the people smugglers.
“Why isn’t action taken against them (smugglers), and why does the foreign ministry continue to fail in this regard?”
“Such incidents pose a significant risk to the country.” What are our organizations doing? “There are 25-26 agencies?” he inquired.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his “thoughts and prayers” to the victims’ families.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also expressed sympathy to individuals who have lost relatives in the disaster.