Debris washes up on a beach near Cutro, southern Italy, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Giovanni Isolino/LaPresse via AP)

STECCATO DI CUTRO, Italy (AP) — The death toll from a migrant shipwreck off southern Italy has risen to at least 63 after rescuers found several more bodies on Monday, in a new tragedy stemming from the dangerous boat trips of people trying to reach Europe. Dozens are said to be missing.

At least eight of the dead were children who died on Sunday after a wooden boat broke in rough seas off the Calabrian coast. Eighty people survived.

“Many of them couldn’t swim and saw people disappearing into the waves; they saw them die,” said Giovanna Di Benedetto, spokesperson for the NGO Save The Children.

Others are believed to have been killed, as survivors said the boat, which left Turkey last week, was carrying around 170 people.

State television reported that police said on Monday evening that two more bodies had been found, but hours later the rescue coordination center said only one body had been found in the afternoon. . There was no immediate explanation aside.

Authorities in the southern city of Crotona have asked relatives to provide descriptions and photos of loved ones to help them identify the dead at a makeshift morgue set up in a sports stadium.

Fazal Amin, a migrant from Pakistan, waited outside Crotona Stadium for information about a friend’s brother in Turkey, whose phone stopped working.

“He just wants to know if he’s dead or alive,” Amin said.

Italian authorities dismissed criticism that a late rescue had been undertaken, saying they dispatched two rescue boats shortly after the European Union’s border agency sighted the 6-metre (20-meter) boat. feet) on Saturday evening as he headed for the coast. Rescuers had to turn back due to rough seas, authorities said.

The beach at Steccato di Cutro, on the Calabrian coast of the Ionian Sea, was littered with the remains of the boat, as well as some of the migrants’ personal effects: a pink child’s shoe, pajama pants and a plastic briefcase. for pencils decorated with pandas. Life jackets were strewn among the rubble.

The United Nations and Doctors Without Borders said many of the victims were Afghans, including members of large families, as well as Pakistanis, Syrians and Iraqis. Asylum applications from Afghan nationals in the European Union were the second highest last year, at a time when the country is facing security, humanitarian and economic challenges following the Taliban takeover in August 2021.


Nicole Winfield in Rome, Renata Brito in Barcelona and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.


An earlier version of this dispatch, sent the day before, has been corrected to clarify that Di Benedetto is a spokesperson for Save the Children, not Doctors Without Borders.

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