Afghan Voice Agency (AVA): According to the Italian authorities, a wooden boat full of refugees broke in the early hours of yesterday after hitting the sea rocks on the coast of Italy. So far, rescuers have found nearly 60 bodies, and dozens more are still missing in the waters.
UN refugee and migration agencies say officials fear the death toll could reach 100, as some survivors told The Associated Press that the boat had 200 people on board when it left Turkey, which, if true, means more than 60 people are still missing. The survivors of this accident say that their boat left Turkey five days ago.
At least 80 people have been found alive so far, including some who washed ashore after the ship capsized off the coast of Calabria along the Ionian Sea, the Italian coast guard said. One of the agency's motorboats rescued two men and found the body of a child.
Italian state television said a man had been detained for questioning after shipwreck survivors suggested he was a smuggler. Officials say three large pieces of the boat carrying the refugees have been found on the beach near the town of Steccato di Cutro.
"All the survivors are adults," said Ignazio Mangione, a Red Cross volunteer in Italy. "Unfortunately, all the children are missing or their bodies were found on the beach." A baby and young twins are also seen among the dead.
The humanitarian group Doctors without Borders says that they are providing psychological assistance to the survivors of this tragic incident. Among the dead was a 16-year-old boy from Afghanistan who brought his 28-year-old sister to the beach, but then died. Another survivor is a 12-year-old boy from Afghanistan who lost his entire family, including his four siblings, in this incident.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration said in a joint statement that more than 170 migrants were on board the boat, including "children and entire families," according to the UN statement. Most of the passengers of this boat are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia.
Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said about 200 people were on board a 20-meter (66-foot) boat. The operation to rescue the survivors of this accident included a helicopter and a police plane, as well as ships from the state fire brigades, the coast guard and the Italian border police. Local fishermen also joined the search operation.
The bodies were said to have been taken to a stadium in the nearest town, Croton. Also, the Italian state television said that 22 survivors have been taken to the hospital so far.
According to the statistics of the Italian Ministry of Interior, in 2022, about 105,000 migrants reached the country's shores, which is about 38,000 more than in 2021. According to UN figures, arrivals from Turkey account for 15% of all arrivals.
Another route used by smugglers runs through the central Mediterranean off the coast of Libya, where asylum seekers often endure brutal detention conditions for months before being allowed to board rubber dinghies or old wooden fishing boats bound for the Italian coast. . This route is considered one of the deadliest to reach Western Europe.