Italy shipwreck: 45 dead after migrant boat breaks apart
At least 45 migrants were killed when a wooden boat crashed into a reef off southern Italy before dawn on Sunday and was torn apart, according to the Italian Coast Guard and United Nations agencies. Survivors have indicated that dozens more may be missing from the boat that departed from Turkey.
The Italian Coast Guard said at least 80 people were found alive and “some of them managed to reach shore after the wreck”.
It was difficult to establish an exact number. A reporter for Italy’s RAI state television, who was standing next to the wreckage on the beach, said 60 bodies had been recovered, citing local authorities. With his foot, he showed a life preserver with the word “Smyrna” written on it, a Turkish port also known as Izmir.
Authorities said the cloth-covered bodies were taken to a sports stadium in the nearest city of Crotone.
Two UN agencies, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration, said in a joint statement citing survivor testimony that more than 170 migrants were estimated to have been on the ship.
A United Nations statement said among the passengers were “children and whole families”, with most of the passengers coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia.
In heavy seas, the ship was caught in a strong wind and crashed into a reef. Some of the wreckage had fallen onto the shoreline stretching along Calabria’s Ionian coast, with bright blue wood fragments strewn across the sand like matchsticks.
“All the survivors are adults,” said Red Cross volunteer Ignazio Mangione. “Unfortunately, all the children were either missing or found dead on the beach.” A 1-month-old baby and an 8-year-old boy were reported.
Citing survivors, state television said the boat left Turkey five days ago, according to a report from the village of Stektarto di Cutro.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the migrants were pushed into a 20-meter-long boat.
Italian officials said rescue operations were underway on Sunday, including helicopters and police planes, as well as ships from the state’s fire department, coast guard and border police. .
A water rescue party of two firefighters struggled with gusts of wind and waves several meters (yards) high crashing onto the beach as they landed the bodies.
A local priest said he blessed the body, which was still lying on the beach.
One survivor was detained for questioning after he accused the survivor of being a trafficker, according to RAI state television.
Some survivors wrapped themselves in blankets or quilts to try to keep warm. They were taken by bus to a temporary shelter. State television said 22 survivors were taken to hospital for treatment.
Pope Francis told his followers in St. Peter’s Square that he was heartbroken by the news. “I pray for the missing and other migrants who survived, for each one of them.” I added that there is.
“This is a tremendous tragedy,” Crotone mayor Vincenzo Voce told RAI state television. “United, the city will find a place for the dead in the cemetery,” said Voce.
About 105,000 migrants will arrive on the Italian coast in 2022, about 38,000 more than in 2021, according to Interior Ministry statistics.
According to United Nations statistics, 15 percent of those arriving through Turkey accounted for 15 percent, with nearly half of them fleeing Afghanistan.
In a statement released by the prime minister’s office on Sunday, Meloni expressed “her deepest grief over the many lives that have been torn apart by human traffickers”.
“It is inhumane to trade the lives of men, women and children for the ‘price’ of air tickets they have paid for the false prospect of safe voyage.” -Immigrant League Party.
She vowed to pursue a crackdown on departures arranged by smugglers and to pressure fellow European Union leaders to support the Italian quest.
But opposition parties pointed to Sunday’s tragedy as evidence that Italy’s immigration policy was deeply flawed.
“It’s hypocrisy to blame smugglers alone, as the centre-right is doing now,” said Laura Ferrara, MEP for the populist 5 Star movement.
“The truth is that today’s EU does not offer effective alternatives to those forced to abandon their countries of origin,” Ferrara said in a statement.
Another route that hired traffickers, similar to the one from Turkey, crosses the central Mediterranean from the Libyan coast, where migrants are allowed to board inflatable boats and dilapidated wooden fishing boats. often enduring months of brutal detention before making their way to the shores of Italy. This route is considered one of the deadliest.
Another heavy loading has begun on the Tunisian coast, and many of those boats reach Lampedusa in southern Italy, or beaches in Sardinia, often without needing rescue.
The Meloni government has focused on complicating efforts by multiple rescue humanitarian vessels in the central Mediterranean, allocating disembarkation ports along the northern Italian coast to ensure that rescued people, often After loading hundreds of migrants onto the ship, it needs more time to return to sea. , landed safely.
Humanitarian groups said the crackdown would also include ordering charity boats to head immediately to designated safe ports after the initial rescue effort, instead of staying at sea in hopes of conducting other rescues. Violators face stiff fines and confiscation of rescue vessels.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella called on the European Union to “finally and concretely assume responsibility for managing the migration phenomenon in order to rid it of traffickers”. He said the EU should support the development of a country where young people with no future in sight have decided to risk dangerous sea journeys in hopes of a better life.
For years, Italy has complained bitterly that fellow EU member states are reluctant to accept some arrivals, many of whom are looking to find families and jobs in northern Europe.