Syria's Daraa enters three days of mourning for victims of Pylos boat tragedy

Syria's Daraa enters three days of mourning for victims of Pylos boat tragedy

Weddings have been postpones, shops are shut and the streets are empty in the southern Syrian city after tens of residents went missing in Wednesday boat tragedy off the coast of Greece.

Many Daraa residents flee conscription and lawlessness in the regime-controlled province, say activists [Getty images]

Residents of Daraa in regime-controlled Syria began a mourning period for Syrians who lost their lives in the Pylos boat disaster that unfolded on Wednesday after a fishing vessel carrying 750 passengers capsized 50 miles off the Greek coast

Some 104 people were rescued while 79 people had been confirmed dead.

Hundreds more are still missing, including an estimated 100 children who may have been trapped in the boat’s hold. 

Migrants on the boat were from Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan - and at least 70 were from the southern Syrian province of Daraa, Nedal al-Amari, an activist from Daraa, told The New Arab

Activists in Daraa announced a three-day period of mourning and additional prayers for the dead on Saturday, via posts on social media. 

Streets and neighbourhoods across the city, including the al-Sabil and al-Sour neighbourhoods, are almost completely devoid of pedestrians, while shops have remained shut. 

A young Syrian named Oday, who had two brothers on board the ship, told his Facebook followers Greek authorities were only communicating with families when they find a body and had been refusing to answer queries from non-family members. 

One of Oday’s brothers has been rescued. The other remains missing. 

According to posts on social media, weddings were postponed across the region as a mark of respect to the mourning families. 

As rescue efforts conclude, families in Daraa and beyond are frantically searching for proof of survivors - and some are beginning to accept their loved ones will never be found. 

Some families may not even have known who was on board for the ill-fated journey, fleeing the harsh realities of life in Daraa. 

Soldiers from formerly rebel-held city are often sent to serve in regime frontlines either in northwest Syria against rebels or central Syria where they are exposed to attacks from the Islamic State group (IS).

Daraa province has been plagued by lawlessness since being reconquered by the Syrian regime in 2018. Armed gangs commit kidnappings and assassinations with impunity.

Each passenger from Daraa was made to pay smugglers €5000 for the journey, according to local activists.

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