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Italy investigates migrant boat catastrophe, with 41 feared {dead}. 4 survivors inform a harrowing story

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ROME — Prosecutors in Sicily on Thursday investigated a capsizing that left 41 migrants lacking within the Mediterranean Sea after they set out in a flimsy boat from Tunisia, the most recent in a string of comparable tragedies involving individuals who entrust themselves to smugglers to succeed in Italy‘s shores.

4 younger migrants who had been rescued by a passing service provider ship informed medical doctors and police on a tiny Italian island the place they had been introduced on Wednesday that they survived by holding on to interior tubes for hours. They and some different survivors noticed an empty boat a nd struggled to succeed in it. However solely the 4 of them made it to the boat and climbed aboard — to search out the iron-hulled, open-topped vessel had no engine.

State TV reported that the migrants survived for some 4 days on 4 bottles of consuming water and a half-package of crackers they discovered within the boat. A Malta-flagged ship rescued them, and an Italian Coast Guard vessel took them to Lampedusa island.

The survivors stated 41 fellow passengers, together with three kids, set out with them from the port of Sfax, Tunisia, on Aug. 3. Waves as excessive as 4 meters (13 toes) swamped the smugglers’ boats the following day, they stated. The others had been lacking, and presumably died.

“Their story is unbelievable,” Prosecutor Salvatore Vella, who is predicated in Agrigento, Sicily, informed reporters on Wednesday, in line with Corriere della Sera. Nonetheless, ”as issues stand, we’ve got no purpose to doubt their account.”

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Vella was not instantly obtainable to elaborate on his feedback.

The Istanbul-based proprietor of the Rimona, the industrial vessel, whose crew put a ladder over the facet so the 4 survivors might lastly attain climb to security, declined to remark.

The empty boat the survivors noticed within the sea is just like the unseaworthy ones unexpectedly soldered along with items of iron in Tunisia to maintain up with the demand by migrants determined to make the dangerous journey towards Italy’s shores.

The United Nations and personal organizations have expressed alarm over the string of shipwrecks and capsized boats. Pope Francis, who for the reason that begin of his papacy has repeatedly denounced the lack of lifetime of migrants at sea, expressed recent dismay Thursday.

“With sorrow I heard in regards to the information of the shipwreck involving migrants within the Mediterranean Sea,” Francis stated in a tweet. “Allow us to not stay detached to those tragedies, and allow us to pray for the victims and their households.”

The destiny of who those that may need been aboard the empty vessel is not recognized. However it’s not unusual for smugglers within the Mediterranean to tow or switch individuals between boats at sea.

Over the past 10 years or so, a whole bunch of 1000’s of migrants have set out throughout the central Mediterranean in vessels launched by smugglers based mostly in North Africa or from Turkey.

Some vacationers who made it safely to Italy informed authorities that their smugglers typically left them in a rickety vessel with out an engine after dashing off on different boats, stranding the passengers.

Based on an official of the European Union’s border company, Frontex, a fishing boat was just lately seen harassing migrants at sea off Tunisia’s coast, circling round them and asking them for cash in alternate for towing them to nearer to Lampedusa. The official was not licensed to talk to journalists and spoke on the situation of anonymity.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose authorities contains an anti-migrant get together, had enlisted the European Union’s assist to forge an accord with Tunisia in an effort to cease the exodus of migrants from its shores in alternate for financial and different help.

However the variety of migrants reaching Italy to this point this 12 months is greater than double in comparison with the identical interval in 2022, with no signal of slowing. Some 1,000 set foot on Lampedusa within the 24 hours ending Thursday morning alone.

As of Thursday, practically 94,800 migrants have arrived by sea this 12 months in Italy, both after being rescued by the Italian Coast Guard or non-public charity ships or by making it unaided, in line with Inside Ministry figures. In the identical interval of final 12 months, some 45,000 arrived.

On Wednesday, Libyan authorities stated at the very least 27 African migrants have died within the nation’s western desert close to the border with Tunisia.

Greater than 100 African migrants remained caught on the border space between Tunisia, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea, together with ladies and youngsters. Some have been there for over a month now, in line with a Nigerian group chief who’s in contact with them.


Renata Brito in Barcelona, Spain, Elaine Ganley in Paris and Robert Badendieck in Istanbul, Turkey, contributed reporting.


Comply with AP’s protection of world migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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