families of migrants missing in boat disaster urge greece to recover bodies from sunken vessel
Hundreds of migrants from Egypt, Syria and Pakistan are presumed dead after their overcrowded fishing boat sank off the coast of Greece in international waters on June 14. While a total of 104 men were rescued from the accident, 82 bodies have been recovered so far.
But with talks with survivors suggesting as many as 750 people were on the boat when it started sinking to the deeper parts of the Mediterranean, families are calling on authorities to raise the wreck from the seabed and recover the bodies believed to have been trapped.
But the chances of retrieving the vessel were slim due to the enormous depth – around 5,000 m – it could be in currently, Greek government officials informed last month. Meanwhile, lawyers representing families of the missing are complaining of a lack of interest.
Migrant Boat Disaster VS Titan Submersible Implosion
“It is a fundamental obligation towards the victims … an obligation towards their families, and of the families towards their loved ones,” Reuters quoted Takis Zotos, a lawyer representing four Pakistani families, as saying. He compared the accident with the Titanic sub case.
Highlighting a lack of interest in the wreck compared to the high-profile, expensive rescue operation launched for the submersible that imploded last month and its billionaire passengers, Zotos said the contrast was “grotesque”.
To date, about 350 DNA samples have reached Greek authorities from relatives in the country or sent from abroad, mostly from Pakistan, a senior official involved in the process said. Out of 82 bodies, just over 20 have been identified so far, the official spoke on condition of anonymity.
While investigations continue to find the causes of the shipwreck, some survivors say the vessel capsized after a disastrous towing attempt by the Greek coast guard, which Greece denies. Weeks after the accident, mainly commercial vessels are now involved in the search operation.
“We will sell our houses … Just give me the body”
Since Matloob Hussain from Pakistan went missing last month, his brother Adil – who has worked as a gardener in Greece since 2007 – has left the door of his Athens home open in the hope he appears. It will stay open until his body is recovered.
Adil reached the country after a perilous journey of his own via Turkey. He has been urging authorities to hire a vessel to recover the people still trapped inside. “We will sell our houses, we will borrow money, if the state can’t. Just give me the body.”
He calls on his family not to come there illegally, even when they tell him they have no work or food in Pakistan. Matloob was the first of the two brothers to reach Greece. But after living undocumented for years since 2005, he returned home a couple of years back.