Almost 60 people died in an accident on a boat with migrants off Italy

Almost 60 people died in an accident on a boat with migrants off Italy

Nearly 60 people die in migrant boat accident off Italy

A ship with migrants on board (illustrative photo).

ROME – At least 58 people, including women and two dozen children, died when a boat carrying migrants sank in southern Italy, the Italian coast guard and police said. However, the number will probably not be final. So far, 81 survivors have been found, but rescuers do not have a reliable figure on the number of people on board. According to various information, there could be 120 to 250 of them. The search operations continue.

Advertisement'; }

The ship wrecked near the seaside resort of Steccato di Cutro in the province of Crotone on the east coast of Calabria. According to Italian media, the vessel got into trouble and broke up in rough seas at dawn today. According to the firemen, the ship apparently ran aground near the coast. The coast guard, border police and firefighters were involved in the rescue work.

More than 20 rescued were taken to the hospital, one person ended up in the intensive care unit, provincial government official Manuela Curra said. The remaining survivors were taken to the reception center at Isola di Capo Rizzuto. One of the survivors, a Turkish citizen, was arrested on suspicion of being one of the smugglers.

“It is a huge tragedy that shows that it is absolutely necessary to crack down on illegal migration channels,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Pinatedosi said in a statement. According to him, it is necessary to stop sea crossings, which offer migrants the illusory mirage of a better life in Europe, enrich smugglers and cause tragedies like today's. According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, 13,067 migrants reached the country by sea this year, compared to only 5,273 during the same period last year.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also expressed deep regret over the incident and promised to stop illegal migration by sea to prevent further deaths. Her right-wing government has taken a tough stance on migration since coming to power last October. Among other things, tough laws have restricted the activities of charitable organizations that rescue migrants.

During his speech today to the crowds in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said that he was praying for all those affected by the shipwreck. The Pope has been a vocal supporter of migrants' rights for many years.

According to Italian officials, the vessel left Izmir, Turkey, three to four days ago. People from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Somalia were apparently on board. Vessels carrying migrants to Calabria usually leave from Egyptian or Turkish shores, the AP agency pointed out.

Italy is one of the main disembarkation points for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. But the so-called central Mediterranean route is known as one of the most dangerous. According to the International Organization for Migration, 20,333 people have died or are missing in the central Mediterranean since 2014.