ROME: Three people, including a Turkish national and two Pakistani nationals, have been arrested by Italian police on suspicion of human trafficking after a boat capsized in Italy, killing at least 64 migrants, Pakistan-based ProIQRA News reported.
The Italian authorities said that the three arrested had taken the illegal immigrants on a boat from the Turkish city of Izmir to the Italian city of Calabria despite bad weather conditions.
The officials further said that the arrested suspects received USD 8,500 per person from the passengers on the boat to bring them to Italy.
A boat carrying illegal migrants bound for Italy from Turkey hit a reef and sank, with most of the 200 people on board believed to be from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Iran, authorities warned. The final death toll in the accident could be more than 100, according to ProIQRA News.
The coffins of those who died as a result of the accident are kept in a sports hall in Croton. Among those dead were 12 children.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday took notice of the drowning of more than two dozen Pakistanis in the boat tragedy in Italy.
Taking to his official Twitter handle, Sharif directed the Foreign Office to “ascertain facts” regarding the incident at the earliest.
Sharif tweeted, “The reports of the drowning of over two dozen Pakistanis in a boat tragedy in Italy are deeply concerning & worrisome. I have directed Foreign Office to ascertain facts as early as possible & take the nation into confidence.”
His statement came after 59 migrants, including 28 Pakistanis, perished after their overloaded boat sank early on Sunday in stormy seas off Italy’s southern Calabria region, Geo News reported citing officials.
The Pakistani Embassy in Rome said 40 Pakistanis were on board besides others in the boat that sank on Sunday, Geo News reported, adding that the bodies of 28 Pakistanis had been moved out of the sea by rescue officials.
It further said that 12 more Pakistan nationals on the boat were still missing. Pakistani officials further said they are in touch with the Italian authorities, volunteers and maritime agencies, according to Geo News.
Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch tweeted, “We are closely following the reports about the 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.” (ANI)