Shipwreck leaves 40 migrants dead near Calabria in Italy

An overloaded boat carrying around 150 migrants sank in rough seas near Calabria, leaving over 40 people dead, including a baby

Photo: Francesco Rocca/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Twitter)
Photo: Francesco Rocca/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Twitter)

Tragedy struck off the southern coast of Italy as an overloaded boat carrying about 150 migrants, mainly from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Iran, sank in rough seas near the town of Crotone in the Calabria region.

The vessel reportedly broke apart while attempting to land, killing more than 40 migrants, including a baby, and leaving dozens more missing.

The coastguard reported that 80 people were recovered alive, including some who managed to reach the shore after the sinking.

The Italian authorities have launched a large search-and-rescue operation on land and at sea.

The boat is said to have left the Turkish coastal city of Izmir three or four days ago, with many of those on board fleeing "very difficult conditions," according to President Sergio Mattarella.

One survivor has been arrested on migrant trafficking charges.

Large numbers of people fleeing conflict and poverty risk their lives each year to make the dangerous crossing from Africa to Italy.

The mayor of Cruto, Antonio Ceraso, said that there had been landings in the past, “but never a tragedy like this”, in comments to Rai News.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who was elected partly on a pledge to stem the flow of migrants into Italy, expressed "deep sorrow" for the incident, blaming the deaths on traffickers.

She vowed to prevent departures and the unfolding of similar tragedies.

Carlo Calenda, Italy's former economy minister, called for people in difficulty at sea to be rescued "whatever the cost," but also for illegal immigration routes to be closed.

In reaction to the shipwreck, European Commissioner President Ursula von der Leyen said she was deeply saddened by the shipwreck and that the resulting loss of life is a tragedy.

All together, we must redouble our efforts on the Pact on Migration & Asylum and on the Action Plan on the Central Mediterranean.