11 dead and 64 missing as two potential migrant ships sink off the southern coast of Italy

11 dead and 64 missing as two potential migrant ships sink off the southern coast of Italy
Rescuers work to save 11 migrants after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Greece, on June 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Valeria Ferraro)

64 people are missing at sea after a ship sank off the southern coast of Italy on MondayUnited Nations agencies said in a statement that 11 others were rescued and transferred to a town in Calabria.

In a separate shipwreck, rescuers found 10 bodies of possible migrants under the deck of a wooden boat off the Italian island of Lampedusa, German aid group Resqship reported on X, formerly known as Twitter.

There are at least 26 children among the missing, most of them from Afghan families, according to testimony from some survivors collected by Doctors Without Borders.

“I spoke with a man who lost his girlfriend,” said Shakila Mohammadi, a cultural mediator for Doctors Without Borders who intervened in the disembarkation of the 12 survivors of the recent shipwreck on Italian soil. “The survivors spoke of 66 missing people, including at least 26 children, up to a few years old.” Months”.

“Entire families” from Afghanistan, who had begun sailing in a dhow from Turkey about eight days ago, died in the tragedy, according to Mohammadi.

This morning, MSF supported the arrival of dozens of people who survived the shipwreck to Italian territory through first aid missions, in what it described as a “heartbreaking” experience.

Mohammadi said: “There were shocked families, and the pain was clear. Seeing a family member or friend drown is always a terrible thing.”

They told us that they were traveling without life jackets and that some boats did not stop to help them.“he added.

FILE – This file photo from Feb. 27, 2023 shows part of the remains of a migrant boat, stranded on shore after a shipwreck early Sunday, Feb. 26, 2023, a short distance from the coast in Sticato di Cutro, on the southern tip of Italy. Where at least 94 people died (AP Photo/Luigi Navarra, File)

In the first incident, about 200 kilometers off Calabria, the boat that left Turkey eight days ago caught fire and capsized, UN agencies said, citing survivors.

The Italian Coast Guard said in a statement that the search and rescue operation began after an alert sent by a French ship. The ship was sailing in an area where Greece and Italy usually conduct search and rescue operations. The survivors and missing came from Iran, Afghanistan, Syria and IraqThe agencies said.

The Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (IMRCC) of the Coast Guard in Rome immediately diverted the direction of two commercial ships sailing near the rescue site. The assets of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) also helped.

The survivors were transferred to the port of Rossella Junica in CalabriaThey were handed over to medical teams. The Coast Guard said one of the migrants died shortly after.

In the second wreck, the crew of the ship Nader, affiliated with the Resal Company, found 61 people in the wooden boat that was filled with water.

He added: “Our crew was able to evacuate 51 people, two of whom were unconscious.” He added, “The ten dead were on the lower deck of the ship, which was flooded.”

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A week ago, the central Mediterranean was the scene of another tragedy when at least 17 bodies appeared floating in the sea, 12 of which were recovered by naval ships. NGO GeoParents And Ocean Viking.

So far this year, until June 14, 23,235 migrants have arrived on Italian shores, compared to 55,662 in the same period of the previous year, according to Interior Ministry data.

If the deaths of these people are confirmed, the number of deaths so far this year will reach 800 people in the central Mediterranean, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration and the Children's Fund (UNICEF). ) in a joint statement.

(With information from Associated Press and Reuters)

Aygen Marsh

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