ROME — A vessel carrying over 100 migrants shipwrecked off the coast off the southern Italian region of Calabria on Sunday morning leaving at least 43 dead and scores missing.
Police arrested an alleged human trafficker found among the survivors of the shipwreck, suggesting that the voyage was part of ongoing human smuggling effort engaged in ferrying migrants across the Mediterranean Sea into Italy.
The boat sank off the coast of Cutro in the province of Crotone, after which a number of bodies were found on the beach in Steccato, while others were recovered from the sea. Among the dead were many women and children, as well as an infant.
The number of victims stands at 43, but investigators fear the number could rise to 100 or even more. The uncertainty stems from the fact that rescuers do not yet have a reliable figure for the number of people on board.
The point of departure is also still unclear but reports have stated that many of the survivors do not speak English. One report suggested the vessel was carrying more than 250 migrants from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
Italian PM Giorgia Meloni has called on migrant taxi NGOs to stop their “ferry service” in the Mediterranean. https://t.co/vbYljwkzZK
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 7, 2023
Roberto Occhiuto, president of the Calabria Region, released a statement saying that “Calabria is in mourning over this huge tragedy. The regional council expresses sincere condolences for the victims of this shipwreck.”
Occhiuto also took the European Union (EU) to task, insisting that the immigration situation in Calabria “is truly becoming unmanageable.”
“What has the European Union been doing all these years? Where is it?” Occhiuto said, adding that it is “those who in are the receiving territories, in close contact with everyday reality, who are forced to manage emergencies and mourn the dead.”
For his part, Pope Francis said Sunday he had “learned with sorrow of the shipwreck that took place on the Calabrian coast, near Crotone,” promising his prayers for the dead, for the missing, and for the other surviving migrants.”
On Saturday, Italian border police apprehended a Fiat Ducato van attempting to enter Italy from Slovenia and carrying 32 migrants of Asian origin. The Gorizia border agents arrested the driver, a 22-year-old Romanian citizen.
In the cargo hold of the van, a large fiberglass tank occupying the entire space had been installed and the migrants had been crammed into the tank, Italian media reported.
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