Italian authorities have recovered 60 bodies and rescued 80 people after the precarious boat in which more than 200 people had been travelling from Turkey for four days sank on Sunday. Carabinieri sources confirmed to Efe that the bodies of the immigrants, including a newborn and at least 12 minors, are located along several kilometres of the coast of the Calabria region, in the vicinity of the beach of Steccato (province of Crotone).
According to the same source, it is not excluded that the number of dead could reach a hundred, as there were between 200 and 250 migrants in the boat, according to the first testimonies of the survivors. Images shared by the local press show the pieces of a completely destroyed wooden boat on the beach.
Although the boat was initially believed to have broken up after hitting rocks, survivors explained that the engine pushing it exploded in the middle of the night, injuring dozens of people and eventually shattering the boat.
Italian authorities had been aware of the boat’s existence since yesterday, when they were alerted by a helicopter from a Frontex agency patrol, the daily La Repubblica reported. Following the call, a search party set off in search of the boat, but rough sea conditions and darkness prevented further operations and forced its agents to return to land.
The survivors who managed to stay alive made their own way to shore, where they are being cared for by the Coast Guard and the Red Cross. About 20 of them have been taken to Crotone hospital while the rest remain in a shelter.
The vast majority, all under the age of 30, are from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and left for Italy from the port of Smirne on the western tip of Turkey.
“This is the umpteenth tragedy in the Mediterranean that cannot leave anyone indifferent,” Italian President Sergio Matterella said in a statement.
He said it was “essential that the European Union finally takes responsibility for governing the migratory phenomenon in order to free it from the traffickers of human beings”.
For her part, the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, denounced in a communiqué that “it is criminal to embark a boat of barely 20 metres in length with up to 200 people on board and with bad weather forecast”. “The government is committed to preventing departures, and with them the perpetuation of these tragedies, and will continue to do so, above all by demanding maximum cooperation from the states of departure and origin,” she added.