Pakistani Athlete Killed in Migrant Boat Accident Buried

Mourners attended the funeral of a Pakistani women’s field hockey player Friday who died in a migrant boat accident off the coast of Italy last month. His death sparked shock and grief in this impoverished Islamic country.

The ship carrying athlete Shahida Raza and 170 others sailed from the Turkish port of Izmir last month. Inside were people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other countries seeking a better life in Europe. However, the ship broke up in waters off Calabria, killing Raza and at least 66 others.

Raza’s funeral took place in Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan, a day after his body was returned from Italy with the help of the country’s Foreign Ministry.

Raza’s family said the athlete was trying to emigrate to Europe to find a good job and earn money for treatment for his son who was brain-damaged and partially paralyzed.

His three-year-old son was not on the boat with Raza when the unfortunate incident occurred.

Photos of Raza wearing colors reflecting the Pakistani flag and his sporting awards have been widely reported on television and social media. But most people only got to know her after her death, because women’s sports are not widely televised in Pakistan. [ab/uh]

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