Death toll increases to 62 from shipwreck off coast of Italy
Passengers were migrants fleeing conflict trying to get to Italy on a small wooden boat that snapped in half. Many of the people who died were children
The death toll has increased to 62 people after a wooden boat carrying migrants off the Italian coast crashed into rocks and broke apart on Sunday. Three more bodies were recovered Monday morning.
At least 12 children died and dozens are still missing. The boat was likely carrying 150 to 200 people and embarked from Turkey.
Firefighter Inspector Giuseppe Larosa was on the scene and said the survivors seemed completely traumatized and their reaction would haunt him and rescue crews at the devastating scene.
“That thing that struck me the most was their silence. The terror in their eyes and the fact that they were mute. Silent,” Larosa told The Associated Press.
According to United Nations refugee and migration agencies, the death toll from the accident could near 100, the AP reported.
At least 80 people survived the shipwreck, and the Italian Coast Guard rescued two men and recovered a boy’s body. But there are around 30 people still missing, according to BBC. Search and rescue crews are still searching for some of the missing people.
Who are the survivors of the Italian shipwreck?
“All of the survivors are adults,″ Red Cross volunteer Ignazio Mangione told the AP. ”Unfortunately, all the children are among the missing or were found dead on the beach.”
Two of the men who survived were “trying to save children by holding them over their heads as waves buffeted them,” per AP.
Most of the passengers were fleeing conflict and poverty from Afghanistan, Somalia and Iran. Italian President Sergio Mattarella said they were escaping from “very difficult conditions,” per the BBC.
Many of the survivors and bodies washed up on Steccato di Cutro, a tourist beach.
“It is something one would never want to see. The sea continues to return bodies. Among the victims are women and children,” the mayor of Cutro, Antonio Ceraso, told reporters, per The Guardian.
Ceraso declared that Monday would be a day of mourning, lowering flags to half-staff outside public buildings, per the AP.
What happens next after Italian shipwreck?
The Italian government is calling on other European nations to come together to provide solutions for people fleeing conflict that would avoid more tragedies in the future. “More than 100,000 refugees arrived in Italy by boat in 2022,” The Guardian reported.
The prime minister of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, blames “human traffickers” for the accident and says she wants “maximum collaboration” with Italy and the countries migrants depart from.
“It is inhumane to exchange the lives of men, women and children for the price of a ‘ticket’ paid by them on the false perspective of a safe journey,” Meloni said, per The Guardian.
This story has been updated as information developed.