Monday, 30 September 2013

Bodies of 13 immigrants wash up on shore of Italy after boat smuggling 200 migrants from Africa runs aground

The bodies of 13 immigrants have washed up on the coast of Sicily after a boat carrying 200 people ran aground as it approached the shore.

When the boat ran into difficulties in rough seas near the coastal town of Scicli this morning, the migrants it was carrying jumped into the sea.

Most made it to shore and ran away, but a number of men were unable to swim strongly enough and drowned.

Rescue boats and divers are now combing the waters looking for more bodies.

Two alleged leaders have been arrested on suspicion of people-trafficking, according to Italian newspapers.

One of the rescue workers said that the Scicli beach was within reach of the migrants at the time, who had travelled packed very closely onto an eight-metre long, cabin-less fishing boat for several days to get this far.

Witnesses say the traffickers showed no qualms about beating the migrants to force them to dive into the water.

According to an initial reconstruction of the events, the coast guard received an emergency phone call around 10 AM from a swimmer on the Scicli beach, who had seen the migrants in the sea after the boat ran aground some 100 metres from the coastline.

Police, carabinieri, and medical teams were mobilised, while three coast guard vessels took off from Pozzallo.

Once at the location of the sighting - San Piei di Modica, a few kilometres from the Scicli beach - they saw some corpses had been washed ashore while others were subsequently recovered a few metres from the shoreline.

The bodies of an overall 13 North African adult males were found. The other migrants had swum to shore only a few moments before, and only a few of them were stopped by the authorities.

Most instead managed to escape on foot. Searches are underway to find them.

One of the alleged smugglers is said to have lashed out at a swimmer who tried to rescue him from the water.

As well as the 13 men who drowned, a number of other immigrants had to be rescued, and several - including a pregnant woman - were taken to hospital for treatment.

One immigrant who tried to escape after reaching the shore was hit by a car on a nearby road and suffered serious injuries.

In addition, 20 children are among the 70 migrants apprehended so far, most of whom came from Eritrea in East Africa, according to Corriere Della Sera.

However, Sicily and surrounding islands are notorious hotspots for immigrants arriving by boats from Tunisia, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa.

The region has also attracted a large number of Syrian immigrants in recent weeks following the continued violence in the country's civil war.

This is not the first time in recent months that illegal migrants making the desperate journey to Italy have drowned on the way.

Last month six Egyptians died after they jumped out of their trawler, thinking they had reached land, while in July seven immigrants drowned while trying to hold on to a fishing cage being towed to shore.

Monday 30 September 2013


Post a Comment