According to officials, at least 59 migrants, including 28 Pakistanis, died after their overloaded boat sank early Sunday in stormy seas off Italy’s southern Calabria region.
“As of a few minutes ago, the number of confirmed victims was 59,” Vincenzo Voce, mayor of Crotone, told Sky TG-24 on Sunday afternoon.
According to the Pakistani embassy in Rome, among others, 40 Pakistanis were on board the ill-fated boat.
The mission also stated that the bodies of 28 Pakistanis had been fished out of the sea by rescue personnel, but that 12 more citizens remained missing.
Pakistani officials also stated that they are in contact with Italian authorities, volunteers, and maritime agencies regarding this matter.
The embassy also stated that it is in contact with the Pakistani community in the Calabria region and is informing them of the tragic incident.
Meanwhile, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stated, “We are closely monitoring reports of possible Pakistani involvement in the vessel that has capsized off the coast of Italy.”
She stated on Twitter that the Pakistani embassy in Rome is gathering information from Italian authorities.
We are closely following the reports about possible presence of Pakistanis in the vessel that has capsized off the coast of Italy. The Embassy of Pakistan in Rome is in the process of ascertaining facts from the Italian authorities.
— Spokesperson MoFA (@ForeignOfficePk) February 26, 2023
Earlier, the coastguard service reported that “43 bodies” had been discovered along the coast and that “80 people, including some who managed to reach the shore after the sinking,” had been recovered alive.
The ship set sail from Turkey several days ago, carrying migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and other countries, and crashed in stormy weather near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on Calabria’s eastern coast.
According to the Guardia di Finanza customs police, one survivor was arrested on migrant trafficking charges.
According to Cutro’s mayor, Antonio Ceraso, women and children were among those killed. The exact number of children who died was not yet known.
Ceraso told SkyTG24 news channel, “a spectacle that you would never want to see in your life… a gruesome sight… that stays with you for the rest of your life,” his voice cracking up.
Wreckage from a Turkish sailing boat, the wooden gulet, was strewn across a large stretch of coast.
Curra said the ship left Izmir in eastern Turkey three or four days ago, and survivors said there were 140 to 150 people on board.
“Many of these migrants came from Afghanistan and Iran, fleeing extremely difficult conditions,” said Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
According to initial reports from ANSA and other Italian news agencies, 27 bodies werehed up on the beach and more were discovered in the water.
Ignazio Mangione, an Italian Red Cross official, told SkyTG24 that very few of the children believed to have been on the boat survived.
Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s Prime Minister, expressed “deep sorrow” over the deaths. She blamed human traffickers and promised to halt migrant sea departures to prevent such disasters.
Since taking office in October, her right-wing administration has taken a hard line on migration, limiting the activities of migrant rescue charities with tough new laws that received final parliamentary approval on Thursday.
Meloni accuses charities of acting as “pull factors,” encouraging migrants to make the perilous sea journey to Italy.
Charities disagree, claiming that migrants leave regardless of whether rescue boats are nearby.
Stopping, obstructing, and impeding the work of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) will have only one result: the death of vulnerable people who are left without assistance.” In response to Sunday’s shipwreck, the Spanish migrant rescue organization Open Arms tweeted.
Separately, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi stated that it is critical to halt sea crossings, which he claims provide migrants with the “illusory mirage of a better life” in Europe, enrich traffickers, and cause such tragedies.
Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina and a long-time supporter of migrants’ rights, said he was praying for all those involved in the shipwreck.
Italy is a major landing point for migrants attempting to enter Europe by sea, with many hoping to continue on to richer northern European nations. The so-called central Mediterranean route is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world.
Since 2014, the United Nations Missing Migrants Project has recorded over 17,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean. It is estimated that over 220 people have died or disappeared this year.