Bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrive from Libya

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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
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Moving scenes were witnessed outside the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Wednesday. (AN photo by Aamir Shah)
Updated 14 February 2018

Bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrive from Libya

RAWALPINDI: The bodies of 11 Pakistanis arrived on Wednesday at Benazir Bhutto International Airport from Libya in a special plane.
Their names were Ikram-ul-Haq, Muhammad Qasim, Waleed Akram, Mirza Ghulam Fareed, Tanzeel-ur-Rehman, Muhammad Aziz, Luqman Ali, Kashif Jamil, Azmat Bibi, Mazhar Hussain and Farhan Ali.
They were among 16 Pakistanis who died on Feb. 2 when a boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya.
Weeping relatives of the deceased arrived at the airport with ambulances to take the bodies to their hometowns. They demanded that the government take action against people-smugglers.
Bashir Chaudhry, the cousin of a deceased family, said Ismail Khan drowned along with his wife Azmat Bibi and their two children. Only Bibi’s body was recovered.
“The family was planning to settle in Spain. That’s why they risked their lives,” he told Arab News.
“They were poor, and Ismail couldn’t find a job in Pakistan despite his best efforts for the last two years.”
Khan paid a hefty amount to people-smugglers, Chaudhry said, adding: “People who wish to go to Europe for better jobs should learn a lesson from this incident.”
The bodies were brought from Jeddah via Saudi Arabian Airlines. The deceased are from the Mandi Bahauddin, Gurjat, Sargodha, Faislabad, Sialkot and Rawalpindi districts of Pakistan.
The bodies of two more Pakistanis will be flown later after completion of due process by Libyan authorities.
Ghulam Akbar told Arab News that his brother Mirza Fareed is survived by five children who are now bound to lead a “miserable life.”
Akbar said: “The government should take strict action against people-smugglers.” He urged parents not to send their children abroad via illegal means.
Sajjad Haider Khan, director of the Libyan Crisis Cell of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, said bringing the bodies back was difficult due to a lack of direct flights from Libya.
“Gullible people are an easy target for people-smugglers,” he told Arab News. “People-smugglers have spread their tentacles across the globe, and they’re well organized.”
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested dozens of people-smugglers in recent months, he said.
There is a need to create public awareness about the risks and dangers involved in going to Europe via illegal routes, he added.
“Europe isn’t a paradise,” he said. “People should try to find jobs in Pakistan instead of paying hefty amounts to smugglers and risking their lives.”
Thousands of Pakistanis risk their lives each year to travel to Europe in search of better jobs with the help of people-smugglers. Most end up in jail or dead.
In November last year, 20 people trying to cross the Pakistan-Iran border illegally, with help from smugglers in both countries, were killed by militants in Turbat, Balochistan.
According to an FIA report issued in December last year, 6,767 Pakistanis entered Europe illegally via Iran in 2017 alone, while 27,749 were deported — 18,810 from Iran, 4,401 from Turkey and 4,538 from EU countries.
“Pakistani nationals are among the 10 most-detected nationalities that attempt irregular migration to the European Union and Australia,” the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report published in July 2013.

Five dead from strong quake in southern Philippines

Updated 17 October 2019

Five dead from strong quake in southern Philippines

  • More than 200 aftershocks from the 6.3 magnitude tremor have also been recorded
  • Another 5.3 magnitude quake rocked Davao Oriental around 4:53 a.m. on Thursday  

MANILA: Five people were reported killed and dozens injured after a strong 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck southern Philippines Wednesday evening, sending people scurrying out of their residences, buildings and shopping malls.

Information released by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed the shallow quake of tectonic origin occurred 7:37 p.m. 22 km southeast of Tulunan town in North Cotabato.

It was felt at intensity 7, described as destructive under the Phivolcs Earthquake Intensity Scale (PEIS), in Kidapawan City, and in Tulunan and M’Lang towns, North Cotabato.

Intensity 6 was reported in Digos City, Davao Del Sur; Sto. Niño, South Cotabato; and Tacurong City.

President Duterte’s home city of Davao experienced intensity 5, as well as, in Alabel and Malungon, Sarangani; Lake Sebu, Palomok, Tampakan and Tupi in South Cotabato; Koronadal City; Roxas and Pikit in North Cotabato; General Santos (GenSan) City; and Kalamansig, Lebak and Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat.

Intensity 4 was felt in Sarangani, Agusan Del Sur, Bukidnon, Compostela Valley, Cotabato City, and Maguindanao; intensity 3 in Iligan City and Dipolog City; intensity 2 in Butuan City and Zamboanga City; and intensity 1 in Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur.

Reports showed the fatalities, three of them children, were from Datu Paglas in Maguindanao, M’lang in Cotabato, and Magsaysay town in Davao del Sur.

The victim from Datu Paglas was a young girl who died due to injuries sustained when the wall of their house collapsed and hit her. In M’lang town, Cotabato, a man succumbed to heart attack, while a two-year-old boy, who was then sleeping, was killed after a block of cement from a fallen wall hit him.

At a far-flung village also in Magsaysay town, a mother and her nine-month old son were killed after an earthquake-induced landslide buried their house.

The mother was reported to be still cuddling her infant when their bodies were retrieved. Rescuers managed to save the father and the couple’s two other children.

While authorities continue to assess structural damage caused by the earthquake, reports placed the number of injured at around 60, many of them hit by falling objects and debris.

Kidapawan City Mayor Joseph Evangelista said over the radio it felt like a steamroller was passing by when the quake struck. He described the shake as very strong.

Evangelista said he has ordered the forced evacuation of residents at a village situated at the foot of Mount Apo following reports of landslides and rockslides.

Patients in hospitals in some of the affected areas were also evacuated, while some residents, still shocked and traumatized by the strong quake, have chosen to temporarily stay by the roadside outside their homes.

Schools have been shut in the damaged areas, which are being seen unsafe for use. Many houses and government buildings were also severely damaged by the strong quake.

In General Santos City, firefighters continue to battle the fire that hit the Gaisano Mall after the earthquake struck. 70 to 80 percent of the mall have already been gutted by the fire, according to the Bureau of Fire Protections.

Some 2,000 employees of the Gaisano mall now fear losing their jobs due to the blaze, according to reports.

Meanwhile, another earthquake with 5.3 magnitude rocked Davao Oriental around 4:53 a.m. Thursday. No damages or casualties have been reported so far, but aftershocks are expected.

More than 200 aftershocks from the 6.3 magnitude tremor have also been recorded.

In the wake of the strong earthquake, the country’s chief state seismologist Renato Solidum said this should serve as a “wake up call” to local government units that do not take earthquake drills seriously.

These drills, he said, are intended to orient local government what to do when a big earthquake occurs.

Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, as it is located along a typhoon belt and the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”