New evidence casts doubt on the Greek Coast Guard’s account of a migrant boat crash and possibly hundreds of deaths. An analysis of the movement of other ships in the area suggests the migrant vessel was stationary for at least seven hours before capsizing, the BBC reported on Sunday. The fire department says the boat was on course to Italy during those hours and did not need assistance. In Pakistan, 10 suspected traffickers who may be involved in migrant smuggling have been arrested.
Greek authorities have still not responded to the BBC reports, television reported. In the face of allegations that Athens should have done more in the tragic case of migrants, the United Nations called for an investigation. Greek officials maintain that until the boat sank, those on board maintained that they did not need help and that they were not in danger.
Hundreds of people could have drowned
Data received from marine analytics platform MarineTraffic indicated that the hours of activity in the small, specific area where the migrant boat later sank cast doubt on the official claim that it had no problems navigating.
Between 7.40pm and 10.40pm, Greek officials originally said, the boat maintained a “steady course and speed”. A close-up they later published, however, suggests that the migrant boat was not moving at the time.
The Greeks reported that the boat was safely heading towards Italy, so the guards did not take any action against it. At 23.00 the boat sank. Several hundred people may have been on board, according to the findings in this case.
Greek government spokesman Ilias Siakantaris said on Wednesday that, according to unconfirmed information, there were 750 people on board the boat.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that hundreds of people may have drowned in the accident. “This is one of the deadliest tragedies in the Mediterranean in a decade,” the IOM said.
Arrests in Pakistan
Pakistan arrested 10 suspected traffickers who may have been involved in smuggling migrants who died in a boat tragedy off the coast of Greece on Wednesday, Al-Jazeera television reported on Sunday.
The authorities assured that those arrested would be “severely punished”. Many Pakistanis were on board a migrant boat that sank off the coast of Greece on Wednesday. “They are currently being investigated for their involvement in the whole process,” said Chaudhary Shaukat, a local official in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
“The Prime Minister has issued a firm directive to intensify efforts to combat those involved in the heinous crime of human trafficking,” the Pakistani government said in a statement.
Young men, mainly from eastern Punjab and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, often take the route through Iran, Libya, Turkey and Greece to reach Europe.
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/YANNIS KOLESIDIS