At least 45 immigrants from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan have died when the boat in which they were trying to reach Italy sank at dawn on Sunday. The shipwreck occurred off the Calabrian coast, in the town of Steccato di Cutro, in the far south of the country. According to local media, between 150 and 200 people were crowded into the precarious boat, an old fishing boat that had left Turkey and that due to rough seas crashed against some rocks a few meters from the Italian coast. Among the bodies recovered by the Crotona Port Authority and the Finance Guard are a newborn baby and several children. The rescue services have managed to rescue 80 survivors so far and are working to search for the missing.
The Italian authorities, who are collecting testimonies from survivors to try to clarify how many people were traveling on the boat, fear that the number of fatalities could increase due to bad sea conditions. Many of the bodies have appeared this Sunday on the beach, in the Steccato area, a tourist town on the Ionian Sea coast, populated with hotels and holiday homes, about 20 kilometers from the city of Crotona. Others have been collected from nearby waters.
With a broken voice, the mayor of Cutro, Antonio Ceraso, told the SkyTG24 news channel that the site of the disaster was a scene “that I would not want to have seen in my life.” “A frightful spectacle, which accompanies you all your life,” said Ceraso, quoted by the Reuters agency.
According to sources quoted by the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera, when the sea became rough, the migrants “did not have time to ask for help” and could not prevent the boat from crashing against the rocks and breaking in two. Some of the survivors made it to shore under their own power.
According to the first reports, the ship probably left Izmir, in eastern Turkey, three or four days ago. “According to the survivors, there were between 140 and 150 people on board,” said Manuela Curra, representative of the provincial Administration, reports the Reuters agency, who has confirmed that at least 45 have died and that among the survivors, 22 have been taken to hospitals. One of the rescued has been arrested for his possible involvement in human trafficking, according to the Finance Guard.
The head of the Italian Government, Giorgia Meloni, has expressed this Sunday her “deep regret” for the shipwreck and has promised to stop irregular maritime migration to avoid more tragedies. “Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expresses her deep sorrow for the many human lives cut short by human traffickers,” she said in a statement from her office. “The government is committed to avoiding departures [de migrantes] and with them these tragedies, and we will continue to do so, in the first place, demanding the maximum collaboration of the countries of origin and departure [de los migrantes]”added the note.
The Pope, during the Angelus prayer, lamented the tragedy. “This morning I was saddened to learn of the shipwreck that occurred on the Calabrian coast, near Crotone. 40 dead have already been recovered, including many children. I pray for each one of them, for the disappeared, for the other migrants who have survived,” Francisco said, quoted by La Repubblicaand thanked the emergency services and those who welcome the victims for their work.
The president of the Calabria region, Roberto Occhiuto, has reported that the survivors are being transferred to different hospitals in the area. He has also mentioned in a statement reported by the local media the high number of immigrants who arrived in the region by sea in the last year and has criticized the migration policy of the European Union. “What has the EU done in all these years? Where is the Europe that is supposed to guarantee security and legality? What has happened to the dialogue operations with the countries of origin of the migrants? All questions that, unfortunately, today have no answer. And those who are in the territories, in close contact with daily reality, are forced to manage emergencies and mourn the dead”, he denounced.