A boat carrying refugees sank off the Italian city of Crotone in the southern area of Calabria, killing at least 59 people, 12 of whom were minors.
The boat, which had set out from Turkey several days prior carrying refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, and other nations, crashed on Sunday in squalls close to Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on Calabria’s eastern shore.
According to some survivors, the boat may have carried up to 200 people when it departed from Turkey, prompting officials to worry that the death toll could surpass 100.
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According to the Italian Coast Guard, at least 80 individuals were discovered alive, including some who made it to shore after the shipwreck. Two men suffering from hypothermia were saved by one of the agency’s motorboats, and a boy’s body was also recovered.
The sinking happened at a time when migration to Europe, and specifically to Italy, is on the rise, despite leaders’ years-long efforts to halt the flow by restricting access, using surveillance, and occasionally resorting to force. In 2022, migration to Europe reached its greatest level in six years.
Strong winds and extremely rough waves caused the boat to crash into the reefs. Some of the wreckage washed up on a section of shoreline along the Ionian Sea coast of Calabria, where broken pieces of vivid blue wood scattered the sand like matchsticks.
Two men, who were rescued, were reportedly seen attempting to save children by hoisting them above their heads as the waves pounded on them. State TV reported that the kids sadly died.
According to the authorities, the corpses were transported to the sports arena in Crotone, the closest city.
Ignazio Mangione, a volunteer with the Red Cross, stated that all of the survivors were adults and that sadly the children were either still missing or were discovered deceased on the beach. One of the deceased was reportedly a baby.
Even though the weather was getting worse, motorboats were still anticipated to search through the night. With the high waves, rescue divers struggled.
A life preserver with the word “Smyrna,” a Turkish port also known as Izmir, was seen by a reporter for Italian state television station RAI while standing next to the wreckage on the shore. According to witnesses, as reported by Italian state television, the boat left Turkey five days earlier.
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 children and complete families were among the passengers, with the majority coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia.
Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni stated that 200 people had been crammed into a 20-meter (66-foot) boat, illustrating the challenge of 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 firefighter teams. Fishermen from the area also aided with the search.