Officials said Friday that the bodies of four Pakistanis, among the hundreds who died after a migrant ship sank last month in one of the deadliest shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean, were returned home.
The four became the first Pakistani victims confirmed by DNA tests in the June 14 sinking off the coast of Greece. The ship carried an estimated 700 migrants, including about 350 Pakistanis. Only 104 people, including 12 Pakistanis, were rescued.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mumtaz Zahra Barok told reporters that the wooden coffins containing the four bodies were unloaded from two flights at the Pakistani capital’s airport on Friday and handed over to families in Islamabad and eastern Lahore.
She said more Pakistani remains are expected to follow soon.
The tragedy rocked Pakistan, and since then the families and relatives of the deceased have been awaiting the bodies to be buried in their homes.
The government has also launched a crackdown on traffickers who arranged trips on fishing boats for Pakistanis, many of whom sought work in Europe. Pakistani police have so far arrested at least 17 suspected traffickers in connection with the case.
The victims paid the smugglers $5,000 to $8,000 for travel, officials said.
Greece has been widely criticized for failing to save migrants before it sank on the high seas. Athenian officials said the passengers refused any assistance and insisted on going to Italy.