Boat death toll in Italy reaches 58 as children among migrants killed in shipwreck in Calabria, Italy
58 people died, including some children, when a wooden sailing boat carrying migrants crashed into rocks off the southern Italian coast, authorities said.
The ship set sail from Turkey a few days ago with migrants from Afghanistan, Iran and several other countries and crashed early Sunday in stormy weather near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the east coast of Calabria.
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The preliminary death toll was 58, Manuela Curra, a provincial government official, told Reuters.
Eighty-one people survived, of whom 20 were hospitalized, including one person in intensive care, she said.
A survivor was arrested on allegations of migrant trafficking, Customs Police Guardia di Finanza said.
Cutro Mayor Antonio Ceraso said women and children were among the dead. Exact figures on how many children had died were not yet available.
Ceraso, voice cracking, told SkyTG24 news channel that he had “seen a spectacle that you never want to see in your life…a horrific sight…that will stay with you for the rest of your life.”
Wreckage from the wooden gulet, a Turkish sailing boat, lay strewn across a large stretch of coastline.
Curra said the ship left Izmir in eastern Turkey three or four days ago, adding that survivors said there were around 140 to 150 on board.
The survivors were mostly from Afghanistan, some from Pakistan and a couple from Somalia, she said, adding that identifying the nationalities of the dead was more difficult.
“Many of these migrants came from Afghanistan and Iran, fleeing conditions of great need,” said Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Initial reports from ANSA and other Italian news agencies spoke of 27 bodies washed up on the beach and others found in the water.
Ignazio Mangione, an Italian Red Cross official, told SkyTG24 that few of the children believed to have been on the boat survived.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed “deep sadness” at the deaths. She blamed human traffickers and vowed to block migrants’ sea exits to prevent such disasters.
Her right-wing government has taken a tough line on migration policy since taking office in October, most notably by restricting the activities of aid agencies rescuing migrants with tough new laws that received final parliamentary approval on Thursday.
Meloni accuses charities of encouraging migrants to make the dangerous sea voyage to Italy and of acting as so-called “pull factors”.
Charities deny this, saying migrants set off regardless of whether lifeboats were nearby.
“Stopping, blocking and making the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) more difficult will have only one effect: the deaths of vulnerable people who are left without help,” Spanish aid organization Open Arms tweeted in response to the shipwreck on Sunday.
In a separate statement, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said it was important to stop sea crossings that offer migrants the “illusory mirage of a better life” in Europe, enrich traffickers and cause such tragedies.
Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina and a longtime vocal advocate for migrants’ rights, said he prays for all those involved in the shipwreck.
Italy is one of the main landing points for migrants attempting to enter Europe by sea, with many attempting to continue to the wealthier northern European countries. The so-called central Mediterranean route is considered one of the most dangerous in the world.
The United Nations Missing Migrants Project has registered more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean since 2014. More than 220 have died or disappeared this year, it estimates.
https://7news.com.au/news/world/children-among-almost-60-dead-in-shipwreck-in-southern-italy-c-9878749 Boat death toll in Italy reaches 58 as children among migrants killed in shipwreck in Calabria, Italy