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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Migration: Media: 43 migrants dead after boat accident off southern Italy

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The Mediterranean is becoming a death trap again. In heavy seas, a boat with migrants has an accident just before reaching the safe shore. Now the search for those responsible begins.

Survivors remain wrapped in blankets on the shore, rescue workers recover bodies from the Ionian Sea: The first photos show the extent of the boat accident off the southern Italian coast. According to the Italian Coast Guard, 43 bodies have been found. The Italian news agency Ansa and the television station RAI had previously reported that these had been discovered on the Steccato di Cutro beach in the Crotone province in Calabria and in the sea. The Coast Guard spoke of 80 rescued survivors on Sunday.

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The number of victims could still increase significantly because many bodies have not yet been recovered from the sea, Ansa reported. Some of the survivors reported at least 250 people on board, others spoke of 180.

Many women and children among the victims

According to Ansa, many children and women were also among the victims. Some of the dead floated at sea, others were found on the beach. Steccato di Cutro is a seaside resort in the municipality of Cutro at the toe of the Italian boot. There are several larger hotels there.

“This is a rude awakening that the community must wake up to lest similar tragedies happen,” Italian Red Cross President Rosario Valastro wrote on Twitter. In a first reaction, Italy’s interior minister Matteo Piantedosi called for tougher action against people smugglers. It must be prevented that the boats would even set sail, he demanded.

Boat breaks apart

According to initial information, the migrants had been on a fishing boat. It broke apart in heavy seas. The people drowned. There was initially no information on the nationality of the victims and the port of departure of the cutter.

Every year, thousands of migrants try to reach Italy and thus Europe from North Africa, often on unseaworthy boats. Many also try to reach Italy from Greece via the Ionian Sea. According to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 25,000 people have died trying to get to Europe via the Mediterranean route since records began in 2014.

Memories of boat accident of 2015

In April 2015, between 800 and 900 people died off the Libyan coast in one of the worst refugee disasters. The completely overcrowded ship had sunk because people on board had panicked when another ship came to the rescue. The wreck was recovered from the seabed, and a tugboat was sentenced to 18 years in prison in Catania (Sicily) at the end of 2016.

According to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, 13,067 migrants have entered the country by sea up to and including Thursday this year, more than twice as many as in the same period last year (5273).

A new law by Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government, which was passed by the Senate last week, is also making the work of civilian sea rescuers more difficult. However, the majority of migrants arrive in Italy on their own ships and boats.

Source: Stern

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