Before daybreak on Sunday, a wooden boat carrying many migrants collided with jagged rocks off the coast of Italy and disintegrated, according to police. Over 60 bodies were found by rescuers, while scores more were still missing in the choppy waters.
According to several witnesses, the boat may have carried more to 200 people when it departed from Turkey, prompting officials to worry that the death toll could surpass 100.
According to the Italian Coast Guard, at least 80 individuals were discovered alive, including some who had reached the shore following the shipwreck off the Coast of Calabria in the Ionian Sea. Two individuals suffering from hypothermia were saved by one of the agency’s motorboats, and a boy’s body was also found.
Firefighters reported finding 59 dead as dusk was falling.
According to state TV, one man was detained for investigation after other survivors said he was a trafficker.
With wind-tossed seas, the boat struck the reefs. Three substantial parts of the ship washed ashore close to the town of Steccato di Cutro, leaving splintered fragments of vivid blue wood scattered throughout the sand like matchsticks.
Ignazio Mangione, a volunteer with the Red Cross, stated that “all of the survivors are adults.” Sadly, all of the youngsters are either still missing or were discovered dead on the beach. Young twins and an infant were reportedly among the victims.
Two guys, who were rescued, were reportedly seen trying to save youngsters by hoisting them above their heads as the waves pounded on them. State TV said that the kids passed away.
The charity organization Doctors Without Borders announced that it was providing psychological support to survivors, among them a 16-year-old Afghan boy whose sister, 28, made it to the shore but later passed away. The teenager “hasn’t got the bravery to tell his parents,” the group claimed.
A 12-year-old Afghan child who lost his whole family, including four siblings, was another survivor.
According to survivors, the boat left Turkey five days ago, according to Italian state television.
A life preserver with the phrase “Smyrna,” a Turkish port also known as Izmir, was seen by a correspondent for Italian state television station RAI while standing next to the wreckage on the shore.
The International Organization for Migration and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees released a joint statement in which they assessed that there were more than 170 migrants on board the ship.
According to the U.N. statement, among them were “children and entire families,” with the majority of the passengers coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni claimed earlier that 200 people had been crammed onto a 20-meter (66-foot) boat, illustrating the difficulty in determining how many passengers had embarked on the journey.
A police helicopter and other aircraft were used in the rescue effort, along with boats from the Coast Guard, border police, and state fireman units. Fishermen from the area also helped with the search.
The neighboring city, Crotone, has a sports stadium, so the bodies were transported there.
Some of the bodies, according to a priest, washed up on a section of beach close to his town. The Rev. Rosario Morrone said on state television, “When I blessed them, I was asking myself why do we arrive after the deaths. We must arrive there earlier.
22 survivors, according to State TV, were brought to a hospital.
Pope Francis prayed for the lost, the missing, the survivors, the rescuers, “and for those who give welcome” to the migrants as he addressed the faithful in St. Peter’s Square.
According to Crotone Mayor Vincenzo Voce to RAI, “It’s a huge catastrophe.” The dead will be given spaces at the cemetery by the city as a show of solidarity.
According to statistics from the Interior Ministry, 105,000 migrants arrived on Italian beaches in 2022, which represents an increase of 38,000 from 2021.
According to U.N. statistics, 15% of all migrants came via the Turkish route, with over half of those coming from Afghanistan.
“Her profound grief for the numerous human lives taken away by human traffickers,” Meloni said.
“It’s barbaric to swap the lives of men, women, and children for the ‘price’ of a ticket purchased by them in the false expectation of a safe passage,” said Meloni, a leader of the far-right whose supporters in the government include the anti-migrant League party.
She vowed to stop departures planned by people smugglers and to exert pressure on other European Union leaders to assist.
The tragedy on Sunday was cited as evidence of Italy’s flawed immigration policy by opposition parties.
Like the center-right is currently doing, condemning just smugglers, said Laura Ferrara, a member of the populist 5-Star Movement in the European Parliament.
The reality is that the EU currently doesn’t provide viable alternatives for those who are compelled to leave their country of origin, according to a statement from Ferrara.
Another method used by traffickers is crossing the central Mediterranean Sea from the coast of Libya, where refugees frequently spend months in horrendous detention facilities before being allowed to board rubber dinghies or old wooden fishing boats for Italian coasts. It is thought to be one of the most dangerous routes.
By designating ports of disembarkation along Italy’s northern shores, Meloni’s administration has focused on making it more difficult for rescue missions by humanitarian boats in the central Mediterranean. That indicates that it will take longer for the boats to get back to the sea after loading up with migrants and transporting them safely to shore.
Humanitarian organizations have bemoaned the crackdown’s request for the charity vessels to proceed to their designated port right away after the initial rescue operation rather than staying at sea to attempt additional rescues. Violators risk severe fines and the loss of their rescue boats.
The European Union was urged by the president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, to “finally concretely embrace the duty of managing the migrant phenomena to remove it from the people traffickers.”
Italy has bitterly lamented for years that other EU nations have refused to accept some of the migrants, many of whom are looking to establish families or find employment in northern Europe.