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11 dead, over 60 missing in shipwrecks off Italian coast

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-06-18 01:10
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This photo taken and handout on June 17 by the Guarda Costiera, the Italian Coast Guards, shows a sailboat off the coast of Calabria. [Photo/Agencies]


ROME -- Two shipwrecks occurred Monday off the Italian coasts, killing at least 11 migrants, while another 66 remain missing, the Italian authorities said.

A search and rescue operation by Italy's coast guard is ongoing in the Mediterranean as of late on Monday, hours after two migrant boats encountered problems near the Italian coasts.

A merchant ship in the area conducted the initial rescue after launching an SOS call as it discovered a wooden sailboat in distress some 120 miles (193 km) off the coast of Calabria in southern Italy.

The merchant ship rescued 12 people and assisted them until an Italian coast guard vessel arrived. One woman died shortly after disembarkation due to severe medical conditions, according to the Coast Guard.

"Searches for possible survivors of the shipwreck of the sailing boat continue," the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Coast Guard specified that two Italian patrol boats and an ATR42 aircraft were currently involved in the search, and another patrol ship with medical teams on board would soon join them in the area. As of Monday evening, no more survivors have been found.

The 66 people who are feared dead include 26 minors, according to local media citing sources among medical staff.

According to the survivors' statement, the sailing boat departed from Turkey last week, carrying migrants and refugee seekers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Afghanistan.

Italian prosecutors have launched an investigation into the shipwreck, the latest in a long string of deadly incidents involving economic migrants and refugees attempting to reach Europe via the Mediterranean.

In an earlier incident, a rescue ship with the German aid group Resqship found 10 migrants dead and managed to save 51 others on board a boat in distress off the waters of Malta, not far from Lampedusa, Italy's southernmost island.

The survivors were mainly from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria, according to Rai News 24. The ship was ordered by the Italian Interior Ministry to dock in Lampedusa, where survivors would receive assistance.

Migrants traveling by boat through the central Mediterranean Sea face dangerous conditions and high mortality rates due to weather conditions and poor-quality vessels. Nearly one thousand people have died or disappeared crossing the Mediterranean so far this year, and 3,155 in 2023, according to the United Nations' International Organization for Migration.

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