Italian authorities discover 8 bodies in migrant boat
Rome, Feb 3 (EFE).- The bodies of eight people, including a pregnant woman, have been discovered by Italian coastguards in a migrant boat off the coast of Lampedusa.
Some 42 survivors were also found in the vessel off the southern Italian island, a Mediterranean hotspot for irregular migrants due to its proximity to North Africa.
Eyewitness accounts to local media said five men and three women died due to the cold. The witness said one of the women who died had earlier thrown the body of her infant child overboard after the baby succumbed to the cold.
Immediately after, a man jumped into the water to retrieve the body, but drowned in doing so, the eyewitness said. The child and the man are considered missing by Italian authorities.
Coastguards discovered the boat late Thursday in Maltese search and rescue waters. There were 42 survivors on board along with the bodies.
The survivors, who were drenched and numb with cold, were transferred in a patrol boat and taken to Lampedusa, where they told authorities that the boat in which they were traveling left the Tunisian port of Sfax last Saturday.
Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation into alleged illegal immigration and the deaths on the vessel.
Among the survivors were people from Mali, the Ivory Coast, Guinea, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Niger, Italian news agency Ansa reported. EFE