June 20. 2024. 2:25

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Death toll from migrant shipwreck off Italy rises to 61

The death toll of a migrant shipwreck near the southern Italian coast has risen to 61, Italian authorities said on Monday.

Manuela Curra, a provincial government official, said a new body had been found at sea after a wooden sailing boat carrying migrants to Europe crashed early on Sunday against rocks near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria.

Earlier, Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said more than two dozen Pakistanis were believed to be among 59 people who drowned when a boat carrying migrants to Europe crashed against rocks near the southern Italian coast.

[ Analysis: How many more deaths must there be on migration routes for Europeans to pay attention? ]

At least 81 people survived Sunday’s incident, with 20 hospitalised including one person in intensive care, Italian authorities said.

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The wooden boat, which sailed from Turkey, is said to have carried people from Iran and Afghanistan as well.

“The reports of the drowning of over two dozen Pakistanis in a boat tragedy in Italy are deeply concerning and worrisome,” Mr Sharif said in a statement, adding, “I have directed the foreign office to ascertain facts as early as possible and take the nation into confidence.”

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Mumtaz Zahra said the ministry had requested Italian authorities for details.

[ Migrant shipwreck in southern Italy leaves dozens dead ]

The Afghan foreign ministry did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Turkey is part of one of the most-used routes for human smugglers to smuggle migrants into Europe, who at times travel by road, walk for miles and endure being locked in ship containers for days.

Italy is one of the main landing points for the migrants trying to enter Europe by sea, with many seeking to travel on to northern European nations.

The United Nations Missing Migrants Project has registered more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean since 2014. More than 220 have died or disappeared this year, it estimates. — Reuters