ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said over two dozen Pakistanis were believed to be among 59 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 Turkiye, 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.

The Afghan foreign ministry did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Turkiye is part of one of the most-used routes for human smugglers to smuggle migrants into Europe, who at times travel by road, walk for miles and endure being locked in ship containers for days.

Italy is one of the main landing points for the migrants trying to enter Europe by sea, with many seeking to travel on to northern European nations.

The United Nations Missing Migrants Project has registered more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean since 2014.

More than 220 have died or disappeared this year, it estimates.

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Matt Feb 27, 2023 12:28pm
What a matter of national shame! Country run by crooks & corrupt cannot provide basic amenities for its citizens who are forced to leave their country for a better future abroad and in the process they perish! So many youth are living at the border of EU countries!
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Tulukan Mairandi Feb 27, 2023 05:52pm
Seems like Pakistanis are desperate to leave the promised land of the pure, the paradise for Muslims of the subcontinent.
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Tulukan Mairandi Feb 27, 2023 05:57pm
Will Pakistan ask IMF and developed countries for compensation for this tragedy too? Blame the capsizing on rising sea, low quality wood, extinction of dolphins to save the victims, and mental retardation due to inhaling carbon monoxide.
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HashBrown® Feb 27, 2023 09:00pm
@Tulukan Mairandi, "Will Pakistan ask IMF and developed countries for compensation for this tragedy too?" Would it be any worse than you begging for international aid when thousands of Hindustanis were dying each day because of your bungled COVID strategy? The loss of Pakistani lives is a sad thing, but at least they were documented - your corpses were only ever acknowledged when they washed up on your shores. Fix your own stinking house before trawling Pakistani news sites and issuing sermons.
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