April 1, 2023

Particles was all that was left of a wood crusing boat that crashed towards rocks within the early morning hours on Sunday, close to the Italian seaside resort of Steccato di Cutro.

It had left Turkey days earlier. Witnesses say as much as 200 folks had been on board.

However confronted with tough seas, the boat sank within the Mediterranean and at the very least 62 folks drowned in a shipwreck that has reminded the world of the worst horrors of Europe’s refugee disaster.

No less than 12 kids died, together with a months-old child and twin toddlers.

“It was a tragic scene,” Crimson Cross consultant Ignazio Mangione advised Al Jazeera.

“There was a mom in search of her kids and throughout the seaside was strewn with our bodies.”

Afghans, Somalis and Pakistanis had been amongst these on board.

“The demise toll is sadly anticipated to rise,” Mangione mentioned, including that those that made it had been “deeply traumatized by the expertise”.

INTERACTIVE_Italy refugee boat_update 3
(Al Jazeera)

Some survivors had been discovered clad in damp garments and on the verge of hypothermia. Others had been barely coated, their garments torn by the pressure of the waves.

Medical doctors With out Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) mentioned 60 survivors had been delivered to the internet hosting heart of Isola di Capo Rizzuto, whereas 22 folks stay in hospital.

Six kids had been hospitalized, together with a teenage boy who was put in intensive care.

A 16-year-old from Afghanistan, who fled along with his sister after the Taliban cracked down on girls’s rights, swam ashore carrying his sibling.

“When he reached the seaside, he realized she was useless,” Sergio Di Dato, coordinator of MSF’s response in Steccato di Cutro, mentioned.

“He has spoken to his family however didn’t have the braveness to inform them the reality.”

The boy is now receiving psychological assist.

A 40-year-old man whose life was below risk in Afghanistan survived along with his 14-year-old son, however the remainder of his household on board drowned.

“He’s guilt-ridden now,” Di Dato mentioned, “as a result of to avoid wasting his life he misplaced three kids – 11, 9 and 5 years previous – and his spouse.”

The boat left the western Turkish port of Izmir about 4 days earlier than the shipwreck. It was noticed about 74km (46 miles) off the Italian coast late on Saturday by a airplane operated by European Union border company Frontex, Italian police mentioned.

Survivors spoke of a blast earlier than the shipwreck, however MSF mentioned the boat doubtless hit a rock as no burns had been reported among the many injured.

Police mentioned patrol boats and search items had been despatched out when the boat was noticed, however extreme climate pressured them to return to port.

saving lives

The catastrophe has renewed a debate on the right way to curb migration flows to Italy and Europe and keep away from comparable tragedies.

Italy’s hard-right authorities has blamed traffickers who revenue whereas providing refugees “the false prospect of a protected journey”.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni mentioned her authorities is “dedicated to stopping departures … by calling for max cooperation from the international locations of departure and of origin”.

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen mentioned on Sunday that she felt “deeply saddened” by the lack of life, and that the bloc wants widespread guidelines to face the challenges related to migration.

However civil society organizations denounced official responses as hypocritical.

“The federal government’s phrases are one more slap on the victims’ face,” Marco Bertotto, applications director at MSF, mentioned at a information convention.

Final week, Italy’s right-wing coalition authorities pushed a controversial new legislation by means of parliament; The rule forces refugee help charities to carry out just one life-saving rescue mission at a time.

MSF’s rescue vessel, the Geo Barents, has been detained and fined for allegedly failing to share required data with Italian authorities. The NGO says the contested knowledge is barely launched in case of an accident and isn’t required below regular circumstances.

Bertotto mentioned the federal government’s proposed options – stopping refugee boat departures and disbanding trafficking networks – had been unrealistic.

Sunday’s shipwreck occurred on the Ionian route, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea connecting Italy to Greece and Turkey to the east. Charities don’t function rescue vessels on this stretch, however as a substitute focus operations within the Central Mediterranean route between Italy and North Africa, which is taken into account the deadliest.

Italy launched a naval and air operation dubbed Mare Nostrum in 2013 that was terminated a yr later with no alternative besides these put ahead by charities, which convey to security solely a fraction of refugees.

The European Union border company Frontex has no mandate to seek for or rescue refugees at sea.

“It’s unattainable to keep away from extra tragedies with out reinstating a [government] rescue operation,” Bertotto mentioned. “This incident is one more collateral harm of Europe’s insurance policies.”

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