At Least 43 Drown After Wreck Off Italy's Coast

Italian leader blames deaths of migrants on human traffickers
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 26, 2023 6:45 AM CST
At Least 43 Drown After Wreck Off Italy's Coast
The wreckage from a capsized boat washes ashore at a beach near Cutro, southern Italy, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023.   (AP Photo/Giuseppe Pipita)

At least 43 migrants perished when their overcrowded wooden boat smashed into rocky reefs just off southern Italy at dawn Sunday, the Italian Coast Guard said. “As of now, 80 persons were recovered alive—some of whom succeeded in reaching the shore after the shipwreck—and 43 bodies were found along the shore," said the Coast Guard statement, per the AP. An infant was among the victims. Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni said the migrants were crowded into a 66-foot-long boat in “adverse weather conditions.” In a statement released by her office, she expressed “her deep sorrow for the many human lives torn away by human traffickers.”

Meloni vowed to press for crackdowns on departures arranged by human smugglers and to press fellow European Union leaders to help Italy in her quest. A chunk of the boat, along with piles of splintered wood, littered the beach at Steccato di Cutro, part of Calabria's coastline along the Ionian sea. Some of the survivors tried to keep warm, wrapped in what appeared to be colorful blankets or sheets. It was not immediately clear where the boat had set out from, but migrant vessels arriving in Calabria usually depart from Turkish or Egyptian shores.

Many of these boats, including sailboats, often reach remote stretches of Italy's long southern coastline unaided by the coast guard or humanitarian rescue vessels. Another sea route employed by traffickers, considered among the deadliest for migration, crosses the central Mediterranean Sea from Libya's coast, where migrants often endure brutal detention conditions for months, before they can board rubber dinghies or aging wooden fishing boats, toward Italian shores. Most of the migrants departing from Libya are fleeing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa or in Asian countries including Bangladesh and Pakistan, not war or persecution, and risk having asylum bids denied by Italian authorities.

(Read more human trafficking stories.)

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