Italy: Scores Of Migrants Killed In Boat Crash

Wednesday, March 1, 2023 | Tag Cloud

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News

ROME (Worthy News) – As night fell over the Ionian Sea, there were fears that up to 100 migrants fleeing war, persecution, and poverty had died after their wooden sailing boat crashed against rocks near the southern Italian coast Sunday.

Authorities initially said the bodies of at least 59 people, including 12 children, were discovered.

However, officials feared the death toll could top 100 as some survivors indicated the boat had as many as 200 passengers when it set out from Turkey, United Nations refugee and migration agencies said.

As the horrors became clear, Pope Francis, the son of Italian migrants to Argentina and long a vocal advocate for migrants’ rights said he was “praying for the shipwreck’s victims.”

Yet, 80 people were being found alive, including some reaching the shore after the shipwreck just off Calabria’s coastline along the Ionian Sea, the Italian Coast Guard said.

One of the agency’s motorboats reportedly rescued two men suffering from hypothermia and recovered the body of a boy.

Others were also confronted with gruesome discoveries. Emergency doctor Laura De Paoli recalled finding another dead child, aged seven. “When we got to the point of the shipwreck, we saw corpses floating everywhere, and we rescued two men who were holding up a child. Sadly, the little one was dead,” she told Italian media.


And his voice trembling with emotion, Cutro’s mayor, Antonio Ceraso, said he had seen “a spectacle that you would never want to see in your life … a gruesome sight … that stays with you for all your life”.

The vessel set sail from the western Turkish port of Izmir about four days ago and was seen about 74 km (46 miles) off the Italian coast late on Saturday by a plane operated by European Union border agency Frontex, Italian police said.

Patrol boats were sent to intercept it, but severe weather forced them to return to port, police said, adding that authorities mobilized search units along the coastline.

But it was too late, underscoring broader concerns about migration tragedies at sea.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed deep sorrow for the deaths and blamed human traffickers who profit while offering migrants “the false prospect of a safe journey.”

“The government is committed to preventing departures, and with them the unfolding of these tragedies, and will continue to do so, first of all by calling for maximum cooperation from the countries of departure and of origin,” she said in a statement.

Meloni’s administration has said migrant rescue charities encourage migrants to make the dangerous sea journey to Italy and sometimes work with traffickers.

Charities strongly reject both accusations. “Stopping, blocking, and hindering the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) will have only one effect: the death of vulnerable people left without help,” said Spanish migrant rescue charity Open Arms in reaction to Sunday’s shipwreck.

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