Rome: At least 28 Pakistanis, out of the reported 59, drowned when a boat carrying migrants to Europe crashed against rocks near the southern Italian coast.
The international news agency, Reuters, reported that the wooden vessel, which sailed from Turkey and was carrying people from Afghanistan, Iran and several other countries, sank in rough seas before dawn near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria.
According to Italian authorities, at least 81 people survived the tragedy, with 20 hospitalised, including one person in intensive care.
However, Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi, who travelled to the scene, said that 20-30 people might still be missing amid reports from survivors that the boat had been carrying between 150 to 200 migrants.
‘Concerning and worrisome’: Shehbaz
Reacting to the development, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the reports of the drowning of over two dozen Pakistanis in the boat tragedy in Italy were deeply concerning and worrisome, adding that he had directed the Foreign Office to ascertain facts as early as possible and take the nation into confidence.
Today the nation pays rich tribute to PAF for a befitting response to the Indian violation of Pakistan's air space on the pretext of false flag Pulwama attack. While we aim for peace with all, we are mindful of our duty to defend the country. Let no one make any mistake about it.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) February 27, 2023
Moreover, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said in a statement that they were closely following the reports about the possible presence of Pakistanis in the vessel.
“The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome is in the process of ascertaining facts from the Italian authorities,” the statement further read.
We are closely following the reports about possible presence of Pakistanis in the vessel that has capsized off the coast of Italy. The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome is in the process of ascertaining facts from the Italian authorities.
— Spokesperson 🇵🇰 MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) February 26, 2023
With additional info from Reuters.