Italy migrant boat
A view of part of the wreckage of a capsized boat that was washed ashore at a beach near Cutro, southern Italy, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Image Credit: AP

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said over two dozen Pakistanis were believed to be among 60 people who drowned when a boat carrying migrants to Europe crashed against rocks near the southern Italian coast.

At least 81 people survived Sunday’s accident, with 20 hospitalised including one person in intensive care, Italian authorities said.

The wooden boat, which sailed from Turkey, is said to have carried people from Iran and Afghanistan as well.

“The reports of the drowning of over two dozen Pakistanis in a boat tragedy in Italy are deeply concerning and worrisome,” Sharif said in a statement, adding, “I have directed the foreign office to ascertain facts as early as possible and take the nation into confidence.” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra said the ministry had requested Italian authorities for details.

Overseas minister Turi expresses sorrow

Federal Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Sajid Hussain Turi on Monday expressed his deep sorrow and grief over the boat sinking incident in Italy.

The minister said that such types of incidents were increasing and precious lives of illegal immigrants were being lost in these painful incidents.

He said that human traffickers were misleading the youth with false dreams, adding, so far, thousands of Pakistani youth had lost their lives while going to European countries in search of a better life.

The minister revealed that through a joint venture, the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis will prepare a comprehensive policy for strict legal action against human traffickers.

Turi urged that passports and Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) of human traffickers should be cancelled and their bank accounts frozen.

Interpol should be contacted to arrest the human beings involved in this heinous crime from foreign countries and due to human trafficking, precious lives are being lost and Pakistan is being defamed, he said.

He said that the Ministry of Human Resource Development was looking for legal job opportunities for Pakistanis, adding that since April 2022, over 0.6 million Pakistanis had been sent abroad for legal employment.

The minister further requested the citizens to avoid going abroad through illegal means and stressed that parents should not push their children towards death due for greed for money.