At least 45 migrants, including a baby just a few months old, died after their overloaded boat sank early on Sunday in stormy seas off Italy’s southern Calabria region, rescue services said. Reportedly, Pakistanis were among the migrants who suffered the unfortunate incident.
According to the BBC, local news sources claim that individuals on board were from Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
“At the current time, 80 people have been recovered alive, including some who managed to reach the shore after the sinking,” the coastguard said in a statement.
“Forty-three bodies have been found along the coastline,” it added.
Rescue workers told AFP that the vessel was carrying “more than 200 people”, around 50 of whom had been brought to safety.
“Dozens and dozens of people drowned, including children. Lots missing. Calabria is in mourning after this terrible tragedy,” regional governor Roberto Occhiuto said.
The overloaded boat broke up in violent waves off the coastal city of Crotone at dawn, according to Italian media.
AGI news agency quoted a rescue worker as saying an infant of just a few months old was among the victims.
Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the post-Fascist Brothers of Italy party, won power in October, partly on a promise to stem the flow of migrants reaching Italian shores.Expressing “deep pain” over the latest deaths, Meloni said it was “criminal to put a boat of barely 20 metres to sea with 200 people onboard and a bad weather forecast”.
“The government is committed to preventing departures, and with them, this type of tragedy,” she added in a statement, adding it demanded the “greatest” collaboration of states from where migrants set off and originate.
The latest such tragedy comes just days after the government pushed through parliament a controversial new law on rescuing would-be migrants.
The new law forces migrant aid vessels to make just one rescue attempt at a time, which critics say risks