Eleven dead and over 60 missing as migrant boats capsize off Italy’s coast

Eleven dead and over 60 missing as migrant boats capsize off Italy’s coast

At least 11 people were killed and 64 went missing in the Mediterranean Sea after two shipwrecks off Italy’s southern coast on Monday.

Rescue workers found 10 bodies in a shipwreck carrying suspected migrants off the tiny Lampedusa island, German aid group Resqship said on X, confirming the first accident. They were trapped on the wooden ship’s flooded lower deck.

Resqship also picked up 51 survivors from the sinking vessel, but one of them died shortly afterwards.

Two of the survivors were unconscious and had to be “cut free with an axe”.

“They are currently receiving medical attention and await a critically needed emergency evacuation. The 10 dead are in the flooded lower deck of the boat. Our thoughts are with their families. We are angry and sad,” the aid group said in a statement.

The wooden boat had reportedly sailed from Libya and was carrying migrants from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan and Bangladesh, UN refugee agency UNHCR, International Organisation for Migration and UN children's agency UNICEF said in a joint statement.

The other shipwreck, east of the Calabria region, involved a boat that had set off from Turkey reportedly carrying migrants from Iran, Afghanistan Syria and Iraq, the UN agencies said.

The vessel caught fire and overturned.

The Italian coast guard rescued 11 people from the vessel but 64 people were still missing.

Shakilla Mohammadi, a staffer at the Doctors Without Borders charity, said she heard from survivors that 66 people were unaccounted for, including at least 26 children, some only a few months old.

“Entire families from Afghanistan are presumed dead. They left from Turkey eight days ago and had taken in water for three or four days. They told us they had no life vests and some vessels didn’t stop to help,” she said in a statement.

The survivors were taken to the Calabrian port of Roccella Jonica for medical care.

The central Mediterranean has the infamous reputation of being one of the deadliest migration routes in the world, with shipwrecks reported throughout the year. More than 23,500 migrants have died or gone missing in its waters since 2014, according to the UN.

The UN agencies have called on European Union governments to step up search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean and expand legal and safe migration channels, so that migrants “are not forced to risk their lives at sea”.