Death toll from migrant boat tragedy in southern Italy rises to 64
Rome, Feb 28 (EFE).- At least 64 people are confirmed to have died after a boat carrying up to 200 migrants sank off the coast of southern Italy over the weekend.
The body of a man was recovered from the area of the tragedy on Tuesday, the government said in a statement.
Rescue teams are waiting for sea conditions to settle before they recover more bodies from the area in mainland Italy’s southernmost Calabria region.
Flavio di Giacomo, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration spokesman in Italy, told Efe Monday that over 100 are feared to have died in the incident.
“Among the bodies recovered and those who have disappeared, there are a hundred fatalities, an enormous number,” he said.
The expert added that according to the testimonies of the 82 survivors, 180 people were traveling on the boat that sailed from Turkey four days before it sank in rough seas near Crotone, Calabria, on Sunday.
Many of those on board were from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
According to the survivors, the fishing boat in which they were traveling broke in half early Sunday after the engine exploded in the middle of the night and sank along with many of the people onboard.
Three people, including a Turkish national, have been detained on suspicion of being members of a human smuggling group that organized the boat journey from Turkey despite the bad weather conditions, local media reported.
The Italian Coast Guard has been searching for the migrants that remain missing using divers and helicopters.
The tragedy has sparked controversy because no charity rescue ships were operating at the time of the shipwreck due to new rules that hamper rescue efforts in the Mediterranean imposed by the right-wing government of prime minister Giorgia Meloni.
Geo Barents, a rescue ship operated by Doctors without Borders, was blocked in the port of Ancona for violating the new controversial decree on NGO ships. EFE