WOMEN and children dead after new migrant boat disaster
The Italian coastguard and Italian police rescued 22 survivors and recovered the bodies of 13 people, all women from Western Africa, after a boat carrying about 50 migrants overturned Sunday night a few miles off the coast of Lampedusa.
The Italian coastguard confirmed yesterday (Monday) it had recovered the bodies of 13 women, some of them pregnant.
Around a dozen people, reportedly including eight children and other pregnant women, are still missing, the coastguard said.
Italian media have reported that the boat had left Tunisia with Tunisians and sub-Saharan Africans on board and according to an initial reconstruction of event, it seems that when the rescue patrol boats arrived to rescue the migrants from the boat, all the migrants moved to one end of the boat, causing it to overturn.
Agrigento prosecutor Salvatore Vella arrived on the island to lead a probe.
Prosecutors have already opened an investigation into shipwreck and multiple manslaughter, against person or persons unknown.
The NGO Open Arms said it saved 40 people from a different boat overnight, including a young boy and a newborn.
Lampedusa’s mayor, Toto Martello, said “People can’t die like this,”
“We must identify the smuggling networks and encourage actions to make the Mediterranean safer.”
Lampedusa which bears the brunt of migrant landings from north Africa, especially Libya, commemorated last Thursday the sixth anniversary of the sinking off Lampedusa of a boat carrying around 500 African migrants on October 3, 2013.
A total of 366 people died in the disaster.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said that at least 19,000 migrants have drowned or gone missing while making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe since 2016.
Since the start of 2019, 1041 migrants have died at sea, according to the IOM.