Boat capsizes in Mediterranean, 9 of the missing from Narsingdi

A rubber boat is seen after having capsized with more than 100 migrants on board, during a search and rescue (SAR) operation in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan Coast, 22 April, 2021Reuters

A boat capsized on 13 August in the Mediterranean Sea on their way to Italy illegally via Libya. At least nine youths from Narsingdi’s Belabo, Bangladesh were among the missing persons in the accident, confirms several survivors and other sources. The families of the victims are devastated upon receiving the news.

The families of victims confirmed the news to Prothom Alo on Friday night.

The missing persons are Mokhleshur Rahman , 20, son of Rafiqul Islam of Kangalia village of Belabar Narayanpur union, Anwar Hossain alias Kamal, 34, son of deceased Hashen Ali, Masud Rana ,22, son of Hasan Uddin of Bhater village, Monir Hossain, 22, son of Harun Rashid of Dulalkandi village. , Rabiul Mia ,33, and Raihan Mia, 22, son of Abdul Motalib Mia, Swadhin Mia, 20, son of Mahram Ali of Tan Lakshmipur village, son of Almach Ali of Dewaner Char village, Emon, 20, and Aman Mia, 21, of Nilakshia village.

According to the relatives, the missing youths paid Tk 1 to 1.2 million to cross the Mediterranean illegally from Libya to Italy. They left the country through the agent in Libya, Zakir Hossain of Dulalkandi village of Belabo Upazila and his associate Shahinur Begum.

Jamal Mia, Anwar's brother, mentioned, "UP member Milan confirmed the details by reaching out to agent Zakir, who is currently in Libya, after learning about the incident. My brother is also among the missing individuals."

Jamal also shared that around 5-6 months ago, his brother had a deal with Zakir and Shahinur to help them reach Italy for Tk 1.2 million. Initially, they were taken to Libya along with others from the area and stayed in a base (a pre-journey location) along with many more. Tragically, the boat they were on sank around 40 minutes after setting off across the Mediterranean Sea towards Italy.

Rabiul's brother Ibrahim Mia, another of the missing persons, said that eight months ago, Rabiul went to Libya through a broker Rabiullah from Bhairab. But he was not provided with valid documents there. Subsequently, agent Zakir enticed him to Italy, taking Tk 900,000 from his family. Now they learned Rabiul is missing.

Rabiul's wife Sathi Akhter said, "When I last talked to my husband, he asked me to pray for him and said, ‘We are now in the base camp. Will be taken by boat on Wednesday, we can't talk for a time being then.’ Then he turned off the mobile. Since then I have not been able to communicate.”

Narayanpur UP member Milon Mia mentioned that upon learning about the missing individuals from a local youth, he attempted to reach Zakir via phone. Another individual answered the call and informed him that out of the 20 people who were under Zakir's supervision on the overturned boat, 11 have been saved with injuries, but 9 remained missing.

In the meantime, after the news spread, Zakir Hossain, along with his associate Shahinur Begum and their families, went into hiding.

Belabo Police Station's OC, Tanvir Ahmed, stated, "I have also came to know of the incident. However, I have not yet received any official complaint."

Belabo UNO, Ayesha Jannat Tahera, mentioned that efforts are being made to get in touch with the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Foreign Employment to gather information about the missing Bangladeshis in the boat incident in the Mediterranean Sea.

Earlier, on 24 June, the speedboat sank on the way to Italy from Libya across the Mediterranean Sea. A young man named Abdul Nabi, 30, of Raipura, Narsingdi died. Another 13 youths of Narsingdi who were with him in that incident went missing. Among them, 7 people were from Belabo upazila.