© Reuters. A view of the wreckage of a shipwreck in southern Italy which has left dozens of migrants dead after the boat in which they were travelling smashed onto the rocks, in Cutro, Italy, February 27, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
By Angelo Amante and Remo Casilli
CROTONE, Italy (Reuters) – Rescuers pulled the body of a man out of the sea on Tuesday, raising the death toll from a migrant shipwreck near the southern Italian coast to at least 64, including about 14 children.
“We will carry on searching the surface of the sea until we are certain that we have found everyone,” said Rocco Mortato, a member of the underwater diving team of the fire brigade.
Eighty people have been rescued since the sailboat sank early on Sunday in heavy seas near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria. The boat had set sail from the port of Izmir in western Turkey.
Rescuers said most of the migrants came from Afghanistan, as well as from countries including Iran, Somalia and Syria.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry said 20 Pakistani citizens had been on the boat, and 16 of them had survived but four were missing.
The tragedy has fuelled a debate on migration in Europe and Italy, where the recently elected right-wing government’s tough new laws for migrant rescue charities have drawn criticism from the United Nations and others.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said in an interview on Monday that she had written to European Union institutions calling for immediate action by the bloc to stop migrant boat trips so as to prevent more deaths.
“The more people depart, the more risk dying,” she told RAI public television. “The only way to tackle this issue seriously, with humanity, is to stop the departures.”