Around 60 migrants, including 28 Pakistanis, died after their overloaded boat sank early Sunday in rough seas off the southern Italian region of Calabria.
The Embassy of Pakistan in Italy confirmed the death of 28 citizens and said that 12 bodies are still missing. For information regarding the incident, the Embassy of Pakistan can be contacted via WhatsApp on 00393898716588.
According to AFP, the number of confirmed victims is 59,” Vincenzo Vose, mayor of the coastal town of Crotone, told Sky TV channel TG-24 on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier, the Coast Guard said “43 bodies” had been found along the coast and “80 people had been pulled out alive, including some who managed to reach shore after the sinking”.
The overloaded ship broke up in violent waves off Crotone at dawn, Italian media reported.
AGI news agency quoted a rescuer as saying that among the victims was a newborn baby only a few months old.
Rescue workers told AFP the ship was carrying “more than 200 people”. Allegedly, about 40 Pakistanis were also included in the migrants, and some of them lost their lives.
“Dozens and dozens of people drowned, including children.” Many missing. Calabria is in mourning after this terrible tragedy,” said regional governor Roberto Occiuto.
Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, took power in October promising to stem the flow of migrants reaching Italian shores.
“The government is committed to preventing (migrant boat) departures and, with them, this kind of tragedy,” she said on Sunday.
– “Eradicate the causes” –
President Sergio Mattarella said: “A large number of these migrants came from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, fleeing very difficult conditions.”
He called on the international community “to make a strong commitment to eradicating the causes of these migrations — wars, persecution, terrorism, poverty.”
The government in Rome has accused its European Union partners of not taking in enough migrants seeking to enter the bloc, even though many who arrive in Italy then travel to other EU countries.
This week, Maloney’s hard-right coalition government introduced a controversial new law in parliament that forces migrant aid charities to carry out only one rescue mission at a time.
Critics say the measure violates international law and, by reducing the number of rescue ships that can operate, will result in more people drowning in the central Mediterranean, considered the most dangerous passage for people seeking asylum in Europe.
On Sunday, the head of the United Nations and the European Commission called on countries to agree fairly on ways to share responsibility for people fleeing conflict and poverty for what they hope will be a better life in Europe.
“It is time for states to stop arguing and agree on fair, effective, shared measures to avoid more tragedies,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said of the “terrible shipwreck” on Sunday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has called for progress on stalled reform of EU rules for providing asylum to those in need.
“We must redouble our efforts on the (EU) Pact on Migration and Asylum and on the Action Plan for the Central Mediterranean,” she said.
– “Punished for saving lives” –
Maloney said it was “criminal to put a barely 20m (66ft) boat into the sea with 200 people and bad weather”.
She asked for the cooperation of the migrants’ home countries and countries from where they embark on their dangerous sea crossings.
A large number of people who want to reach European shores cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Italy.
According to the Interior Ministry, almost 14,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea this year, up from 5,200 over the same period last year.
Charities that rescue people in danger at sea bring only a small proportion of migrants to shore.
Most of those rescued were pulled from the dangerous waters by the Italian coast guard or navy.
Despite this, Maloney’s government has accused rescue aid organizations of encouraging migrants to try to cross and increasing the wealth of traffickers.
On Thursday, Italian authorities seized a migrant rescue ship belonging to the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) for allegedly violating a new law on rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
“It is unacceptable to be punished for saving lives,” MSF said, adding that it was considering a possible legal challenge.
“People in difficulty at sea should be rescued, whatever the cost, without punishing those who try to help them,” centrist former economy minister Carlo Calenda said on Sunday.