RAWALPINDI: Moving scenes were witnessed at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport where bodies of 11 people who died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya reached on Wednesday.
Devastated heirs were scene crying as they went on with completing the formalities of receiving the remains of their dear ones who had left to seek fortunes for their families.
A woman is also among the deceased who had taken the fatal journey along with her children to join her husband in Europe. Azmat Bibi was traveling with her children, who were so far missing.
Heart wrenching scenes were witnessed at the cargo section of the airport, where the families had come to collect the dead bodies of their beloved ones.
People said that a desk to offer information was set up at the cargo section but the staff deputed to fulfil the responsibility failed to provide with any assistance. They said that the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were responsible for the situation.
Illegal emigrants hailing from various areas of Rawalpindi including Gojar Khan, Mandi Bahauddin and Sialkot, hopeful of going to Italy and several other European countries for a bright future met with a tragedy when on the January 31 the boat they were traveling in capsised in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast.
The 11 victims include Ikramul Haq and Muhammad Qasim Baig from Mandi Bahauddin; Ghulam Fareed from Gojar Khan, Tanzeelur Rehman from Sialkot, Muhammad Aziz from Sargodha, Luqman Ali, Kashif Jamil, Waleed Akram, Azmat Bibi, Mazhar Hussain, and Farhan Ali from Gujarat.
The bodies came via flight SV 722. Special arrangements were made in the cargo section of the airport for handing over the remains the mourners.
The administration had managed 11 ambulances of Edhi and other welfare services at the airport. Each ambulance bore the name and area of the deceased.
Among the mourners was Abdul Hafeez from Sargodha who shared that his younger brother, 32 year old Muhammad Aziz was a laborious man. He was married and father of two children aged two and five. He had left for Italy after paying Rs7.5 million to an agent.
On January 31, Aziz informed of his well-being, but later on the family learned about the tragedy through the media. He said that the number of the agent is powered off after the incident.
Two boys aged 12 and 14 were there to collect the body of their father, Ghulam Fareed, who had left them with hopes of sending huge sums of money to build better lives.
The children’s grandfather and uncle were holding the shaken children as volunteers loaded the casket containing the remains of their father in an ambulance.
Fareed’s uncle, Muhammad Iqbal, said it was a sorry state of affairs that the heirs received the bodies after 15 days of the incident.
Iqbal had flown all the way from Britain while speaking to Daily Express said he had told Fareed from travelling through sea.
Mandi Bahauddin’s 19-year-old Akramul Haq’s brother, Hayat Asghar, who himself lives in Dubai came to Pakistan upon learning of his death.
He told Daily Express that his brother was a bachelor and nearly 18 months back had gone to Dubai. He wanted to go to Italy. Although the family elders tried to talk him out of it, he remained adamant.
Asghar said he last spoke to his brother on January 29, during which he informed of his well-being.
Relatives of Azmat Bibi said they have yet to recive any news of her children who were with her.
They said that Azmat’s husband, Ismail, was also settled abroad and he had called his wife and children there. “We don’t know how they went there, however, there is no information of the husband Ismail and the children,” said one of them.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2018.