More than 59 people have died and more than 81 have survived a migrant boat shipwreck in southern Italy, the coast guard said on Sunday.
The shipwreck took place near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria, the region that forms the tip of Italy’s boot.
The death toll has surpassed 59, including 12 children, the coast guard stated, but the situation was developing and the rescue was underway.
Firefighters and other emergency services were looking for more survivors at sea using jet skis, but conditions were harsh, making the search difficult, he added.
���� A boat carrying 250 migrants from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan has crashed off the coast of #Italy killing at least 33 people.
The boat crashed off the coast of Crotone in the Italian region of Calabria, sailing from Turkey. pic.twitter.com/KSDlCU5YUY
— OSINT Expert (@BeAawaree) February 26, 2023
Earlier, Italian news agency ANSA reported that 27 bodies were found on the beach and that more bodies were spotted at sea.
“The Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, expresses her deep sorrow for the many human lives cut short by human traffickers,” a statement from her office said.
“The government is committed to preventing (migrant) departures, and with them, the unfolding of these tragedies, and will continue to do so, first of all by demanding maximum collaboration from (migrants’) countries of departure and of origin,” the statement added.
“It is a huge tragedy which shows the absolute need to act firmly against irregular migration channels,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said in a statement.
It is “essential” to stop sea crossings which, offering migrants the “illusory mirage of a better life” in Europe, enrich traffickers and “cause tragedies like today’s”, he added.
On their official Telegram channel, firefighters said they had recovered 28 bodies, and indicated that the migrants’ boat ran aground by the coast.
The Adnkronos news agency said that more than 100 people were aboard the ship, while AGI, another Italian news agency, said a baby and several children were among the dead.
The vessel, bringing migrants from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, crashed against rocks during rough sea weather, Adnkronos said.
The Italian coast guard, reported to be on the scene with firefighters and other police forces, was not immediately reachable for comment.
Italy is one of the main landing points for migrants trying to illegally enter Europe by sea. The so-called central Mediterranean route is known as one of the world’s most dangerous.
According to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project, 20,333 people have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean since 2014.