A boat has crashed into rocks off the Italian coast, killing at least 59 people including children. The boat had sailed from Türkiye and was carrying migrants including some from Afghanistan and Iran. Italian officials say the boat was carrying up to 200 migrants. There are at least 81 survivors but more passengers may be missing.
Migrants commonly attempt to reach Italy by boat, but the Mediterranean Sea is dangerous to cross and thousands of deaths have been reported in recent years. Successive Italian governments have tried to take action against boat arrivals and Italy’s current far-right Government has taken a particularly strong stance. Last week, Italy passed a new law restricting the operations of charity-run rescue ships, which the Government argues encourages boat arrivals. These crackdowns were condemned by the United Nations and humanitarian groups.
Patrol boats had attempted to intercept the ship but were prevented from doing so due to severe weather. Material and bodies from the shipwreck have washed up on the eastern coast of the southern Italian region of Calabria, and search efforts are attempting to recover any remaining passengers along the coastline. Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni blamed human traffickers for falsely promising migrants a safe journey, but charities argue Government restrictions on rescue operations make deaths more likely.