Attendees on Friday attended the funeral of a Pakistani female field hockey player who died in a migrant boat crash off the coast of Italy last month, sending waves of shock and grief through this impoverished Islamic nation.
The boat carrying athlete Shahida Raza and 170 other people left the Turkish port of Izmir last month. The riders were people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and other countries seeking a better quality of life in Europe. It broke up in rough waters near Calabria, killing Raza and at least 66 others.
Raza’s funeral and burial took place in Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, a day after his body was repatriated from Italy with the help of the country’s foreign ministry.
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Raza’s family said the athlete tried to move to Europe to find a good job and earn money for the treatment of their 3-year-old disabled son, so that he could lead a normal life. The boy, who was not on the boat, suffered brain damage as a child and was paralyzed on one side of his body. He lived in Pakistan.
The athlete’s younger sister Sadia Raza said on Friday that her elder sister went on a sea voyage due to financial constraints.
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“She gave her life only for her sick child,” said the athlete’s sister. He thanked the government for bringing back Raza’s body so that he could be buried in his own country.
Photos of Raza in the country’s national colors and sports honors have appeared on television and social media. But most people found out after her death, as women’s sports are not widely televised in Pakistan.
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