BEIRUT

Middle East

Around 30 bodies found in migrant boat: Italian authorities

The Italian Navy rescues migrants on a boat on May 19, 2014 during an operation off the coast of Sicily. (AFP/MARINA MILITARE)

ROME: About 30 bodies have been found in a migrant boat that was stopped between Sicily and the North African coast, Italian news agencies reported Monday, citing the navy and coastguard.

The rescuers made the gruesome discovery when they boarded a fishing boat carrying around 590 refugees and migrants to evacuate those in most distress, including two pregnant women.

The immigrants apparently died of asphyxiation, the news agencies said. It is not the first time Italian rescuers have found migrants dead on the overcrowded boats but never before were there such a large number.

The boat is being towed by the Italian navy and is expected to arrive later Monday in Pozzallo on the southeast coast of Sicily.

Over the past weekend more than 1,600 migrants were rescued by Italian authorities, bringing the total number of migrants so far this year to above 60,000.

The number is expected to soar past the record 63,000 set in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings.

Italy has long borne the brunt of migrants making the perilous crossing from North Africa to Europe, but EU border agency Frontex says there has been a significant rise in numbers in recent months.

The last few weeks have seen a series of tragedies, with ten people drowning and 39 having to be rescued after their boat sank off the Libyan coast earlier in June.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has called for the rescue operation to become a European initiative amid reports of thousands of migrants waiting in Libya to make the trip during the next few weeks.

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

About 30 bodies have been found in a migrant boat that was stopped between Sicily and the North African coast, Italian news agencies reported Monday, citing the navy and coastguard.

It is not the first time Italian rescuers have found migrants dead on the overcrowded boats but never before were there such a large number.

Over the past weekend more than 1,600 migrants were rescued by Italian authorities, bringing the total number of migrants so far this year to above 60,000 .


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here