The bodies of four Pakistanis who were among the hundreds who perished in June in an unprecedented tragedy off the coast of Greece have been brought home
ISLAMABAD — The bodies of four Pakistanis who were among the hundreds who perished when a migrant vessel sank last month in one of the deadliest shipwrecks in the central Mediterranean Sea were brought home on Friday, officials said.
The four were the first Pakistani casualties to be identified through DNA testing from the June 14 sinking off the coast of Greece. The vessel was carrying an estimated 700 migrants, including about 350 Pakistanis. Only 104 people, including 12 Pakistanis, were rescued.
Wooden caskets carrying the remains of the four were taken off two flights at the airport in the Pakistani capital on Friday and handed over to their families in Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told reporters.
She said more remains of Pakistanis are expected to follow soon.
The tragedy stunned Pakistan, and families and relatives of those who died have since been waiting to receive their bodies to bury them at home.
The government has also launched a crackdown on the human traffickers who arranged travel for the Pakistanis on the fishing boat, many of whom were seeking jobs in Europe. So far, Pakistani police have arrested at least 17 suspected traffickers in connection with the case.
Officials say the victims paid the smugglers between $5,000 and $8,000 for the voyage.
Greece has been widely criticized for not trying to save the migrants before the sinking in international waters. Officials in Athens say the passengers refused any help and insisted on proceeding to Italy.
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