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At least 33 migrants dead after shipwreck in southern Italy

Rescuers recover a body at a seaside resort in the province of Crotone, Italy on February 26, 2023.

At least 33 migrants, including a newborn baby, have died in a shipwreck as they tried to land on a beach in rough seas off the coast of Italy’s Calabria region.

The ship was said to be carrying more than 100 migrants when it ran into trouble at dawn on Sunday, with bodies washing ashore in Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort in the province of Crotone.

Italy’s fire service wrote on Twitter that 28 bodies had been recovered, with many reported to have washed up on the beach near Steccato di Cutro, a tourist destination, while more bodies were spotted in the water.

Fifty people have so far been rescued. Firefighters are still looking for more survivors at sea, but conditions are harsh, making the search difficult, Danilo Maida, spokesman for the firefighters in the Calabria region, said.

Rai News reported that the boat “snapped in two”, citing sources as saying that those onboard “didn’t have time to ask for help.”

The Italian coastguard, firefighters, police, and Red Cross rescue workers attended the scene.

The vessel is believed to have departed from Turkey bringing migrants from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Italy is one of the main landing points for migrants trying to enter Europe by sea. The so-called central Mediterranean route is known as one of the world’s deadliest migratory sea crossings, claiming the largest number of lives each year.

Over 87,000 people have landed in Italy so far this year, according to the interior ministry. Only 14 percent of those were rescued at sea and brought to safety by charity vessels. Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, are stranded elsewhere in Europe.

Giorgia Meloni’s rightwing government, which came to power in October, imposed tough measures against sea rescue charities, including fining them up to €50,000 if they flout a requirement to request a port and sail to it immediately after undertaking one rescue instead of remaining at sea to rescue people from other boats in difficulty.

According to the International Organization for Migration's Missing Migrants Project, 20,333 people have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean since 2014.

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