Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan declared Monday a day of mourning for Pakistanis who died after a fishing boat crowded with migrants capsized off the coast of Greece last week, and ordered a crackdown on the people involved in trafficking Pakistanis to Europe.
The Greek authorities have recovered more than 80 bodies in the aftermath of the wreck, but they acknowledge that the true toll from Wednesday’s disaster, when the boat sank in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean, appears to be in the hundreds. That would make the tragedy among the deadliest of its kind.
At least 104 Pakistanis were confirmed to be among those killed, according to the Pakistani police, though officials expect the toll from the disaster to rise. Many of the missing were from the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir, the region long contested between India and Pakistan, and nearby in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province.
Mr. Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, said on Twitter on Sunday that law-enforcement agencies had been asked “to tighten the noose around individuals involved in the heinous act of human smuggling.” He also announced a committee to investigate people-trafficking networks.
Since Sunday, the Pakistani authorities have arrested at least 15 people they accused of involvement in the trafficking of several migrants who drowned, according to Pakistani authorities.
At least one of the people arrested has been accused of charging migrants around 2.3 million Pakistani rupees — about $8,000 — to enter Europe unlawfully, according to the police.
While Punjab Province has long been a hub for human trafficking, the number of people looking to leave the province has increased in recent years as the economy has soured.
The rising cost of living, soaring inflation and rampant unemployment have compelled many people in the region to migrate abroad — including through illegal means — in search of work, locals say.
The ship that capsized was a roughly 80- to 100-foot fishing boat, the Adriana, which had set sail the previous week from eastern Libya bound for Italy. The wreck had more than 100 known survivors, some of whom have estimated the number of people aboard to be as high as 750, including many women and children below deck; the authorities in Greece have said they believe that number to be exaggerated.
Greece has faced questions over whether it could have done more to save the vessel, which was in international waters but within the Greek search-and-rescue area. Officials there have said they offered to help several times but were rebuffed.
Greek officials arrested nine Egyptian men last week who survived the sinking, charging them with causing the wreck and illegally transferring migrants.
During a parliamentary session on Monday, Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, accused Greek authorities of not doing enough to rescue those aboard the ship.
He also called for stricter legislation and harsher penalties against human trafficking networks within Pakistan.
Nearly 3,800 migrants died on routes within and from the Middle East and North Africa last year, according to the International Organization for Migration, a United Nations agency. This year is on track to be worse. The central Mediterranean had its deadliest first quarter since 2017, the agency said.
Jason Horowitz and Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.