At least 16 Pakistanis drowned off the coast of Libya early on Friday after a smuggler’s boat they were riding capsized, the Foreign Office (FO) confirmed on Saturday.
According to a document acquired by DawnNews, the bodies of eight Pakistani migrants had been recovered and identified. The identification documents of four deceased Pakistanis were not found, but they were identified by a survivor.
The bodies of four migrants hailing from Gujrat have not been recovered as yet, however, they have been identified through their IDs.
Most of the deceased migrants hail from Punjab’s districts, including Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha, Gujrat and Rawalpindi.
According to the FO, the Pakistani embassy in Libya is working round the clock to ensure recovery of all Pakistani nationals’ bodies.
Four members of the same family and a five-year-old child are among those who perished in the incident, FO spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said.
The FO spokesman while talking to DawnNews advised Pakistanis against adopting this “extremely dangerous” method to reach Europe illegally via sea.
An estimated 90 migrants were feared to have drowned when the latest migrant tragedy occurred in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Zuwara, leaving three known survivors.
The FO had said on Friday evening that up to 11 Pakistanis were among the people who drowned.
Security officials in the western Libyan town of Zuwara said two Libyans and one Pakistani had been rescued from the boat.
Zuwara, located near Libya’s border with Tunisia, was a favoured site for migrant boat departures over the past two years but of late has seen only occasional departures.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) pointed out that Pakistanis made up the 13th largest group trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe last year, with 3,138 of them arriving in Italy in 2017, and no recorded sea deaths.
But they have already climbed to third place this year, with an estimated 240 Pakistanis reaching Italy in January, compared to just nine during the same month last year.