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60 migrants die in boat crash off Italian coast

The 60th victim of the fishing boat that crashed with migrants was found on the coast of southern Italy.

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60 migrants die in boat crash off Italian coast

The 60th victim of the fishing boat that crashed with migrants was found on the coast of southern Italy. Rescuers discovered the body of a young man on Monday morning, authorities said.

Two Coast Guard ships and a helicopter searched the sea off Steccato di Cutro for the dozens of people who were still missing. Shipwrecks, petrol tanks, food containers and shoes floated in high winds. A transport car picked up the man's body.

According to survivors, about 170 people were on board the small wooden ship, which left Turkey for Italy last week. According to the Italian Coast Guard, at least 80 people survived the boat that crashed into a reef off Calabria early Sunday morning and broke apart.

Firefighter Giuseppe Larosa said the first rescuers were particularly shocked because of the many dead children. "It was a chilling scene: bodies strewn across the beach, so many bodies, so many children," he said. The dead were covered with abrasions, as if they had clung to something on the ship to survive.

He had concentrated on rescue attempts, but he was also frightened by the condition of the survivors. "What struck me was their silence," Larosa said. "Fright in her eyes, but speechless, dumb."

The number of victims could increase significantly. Many bodies have not yet been recovered from the sea, the Italian news agency Ansa reported. Some of the survivors reported at least 250 people on board.

In a first reaction, Italy's interior minister Matteo Piantedosi called for tougher action against people smugglers. It must be prevented that the boats would even set sail, he demanded. According to his ministry, 13,067 migrants have entered the country by sea up to and including Thursday this year, well over twice as many as in the same period last year (5,273).

According to initial information, the migrants had been on a fishing boat. It broke apart in heavy seas. The people drowned. There was initially no information on the nationality of the victims and the port of departure of the cutter.

Every year, thousands of migrants try to reach Italy and thus Europe from North Africa, often on unseaworthy boats. Many also try to reach Italy from Greece via the Ionian Sea. According to a report by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), more than 25,000 people have died trying to get to Europe via the Mediterranean route since records began in 2014.

A new law by Giorgia Meloni's government, which was passed by the Senate last week, also makes the work of civilian sea rescuers more difficult. However, the majority of migrants arrive in Italy on their own ships and boats.

In April 2015, between 800 and 900 people died off the Libyan coast in one of the worst refugee disasters. The completely overcrowded ship had sunk because people on board had panicked when another ship came to the rescue. The wreck was recovered from the seabed, and a tugboat was sentenced to 18 years in prison in Catania (Sicily) at the end of 2016.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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