A wooden sailboat carrying migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and a few other countries was shipwrecked and sunk by a violent storm near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort off the east coast of Calabria.
The sinking occurred early Sunday morning. According to the latest figures from Italian authorities, at least 59 people have died, including 12 children.
81 people managed to escape, 20 of them are now hospitalized. One of the victims is in intensive care.
According to surviving migrants, there were around 140 to 150 people on board the ship. The Italian rescue services, in stormy weather, continue to search at sea and on the coasts for survivors of this shipwreck.
Authorities have mobilized search teams along the coastline.
Among the bodies washed up and found by rescuers was the body of a child only a few months old, according to the ANSA news agency.
Emergency doctor Laura De Paoli also said a dead seven-year-old child had been found.
“When we arrived at the sinking we saw bodies floating and rescued two men who were holding the body of a child above the water. Unfortunately the baby was dead,” the doctor said.
According to Italian police, the boat carrying the migrants left the Turkish port of Izmir around four days ago and was spotted 74km off the Italian coast on Saturday evening by an EU border agency plane. Frontex. Patrol boats were used to intercept the vessel, but stormy weather forced border guards to return to port.
The tragedy at sea has reignited the migration debate in Europe, and particularly in Italy, which recently introduced tough laws for migrant rescue charities, drawing criticism from the UN and rights groups of man.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed deep regret for the loss of life on Sunday and blamed smugglers and traffickers who she said profit by offering migrants a “false prospect of safe travel”.
The Meloni government accuses maritime migrant rescue charities of encouraging migrants to attempt to reach Italy by sea, and that these organizations sometimes work in partnership with human traffickers.
The associations vigorously deny these accusations.
“Stopping, blocking and hindering the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) will have only one effect: the death of those who are vulnerable – people left without help,” tweeted the Spanish migrant rescue association Open. Arms.
However, the coast of Calabria is not normally patrolled by NGO vessels, which usually ply the waters south of Sicily. This means that, whatever the harsh measures of the Meloni government, the tragedy off Calabria could hardly have been avoided.
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