At least 59 people were killed after a boat carrying migrants crashed into rocks off the coast of southern Italy on Sunday, according to Italy’s fire and rescue service.
Rescue efforts are ongoing and 80 survivors have been found, the Italian coast guard said Sunday, per Axios. The crash happened near the Steccato di Cutro resort, in the Crotone province of Calabria, a region of Southern Italy. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: There’s A Massive Loophole In Biden’s Immigration Parole Program)
#Crotone naufragio migranti, continuano i soccorsi dei #vigilidelfuoco sulla spiaggia nella zona di Steccato di Cutro. Nell’area operano squadre ordinarie, soccorritori acquatici e sommozzatori. Sono 59 le vittime recuperate [#26febbraio 16:30] pic.twitter.com/Kw2yKUsKZi
— Vigili del Fuoco (@vigilidelfuoco) February 26, 2023
An estimated 170 migrants were on board, including children and families, who left from Turkey for Italy, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said 200 people were on the boat and pledged to curtail illegal immigration in her statement.
The passengers were primarily from Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the death toll could grow even higher, the UNHCR said. Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi travelled to the scene and said 20-30 people might still be missing, Reuters reported.
Women and children were among those pronounced dead, with Al Jazeera reporting that a months-old baby was one of the 12 children killed by the crash. One 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan lost his entire family, including four siblings in the crash, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The migrants were traveling in a wooden sailboat that was caught in severe weather overnight and collided with rocky reefs, causing it to sink. Splintered wood and large chunks of the boat have been recovered by authorities, AP reported. One survivor was arrested on human trafficking charges after he was identified by other survivors, the outlet said.