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At Least 58 Dead After Migrant Boat Breaks Apart Near Italian Coast

The disaster follows a move by far right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to restrict groups that rescue migrants at sea.

The remains of the boat destroyed by a storm while carrying 250 migrants lie on the beach in Steccato di Cutro, Calabria, Italy, on February 26, 2023.

At least 58 migrants died when their overcrowded wooden boat smashed into rocky reefs and broke apart off southern Italy before dawn on Sunday, the Italian coast guard said. Survivors reportedly indicated that dozens more could be missing.

“All of the survivors are adults,″ AP quoted Red Cross volunteer Ignazio Mangione. ”Unfortunately, all the children are among the missing or were found dead on the beach.”

The Italian news agency ANSA said 20 minors are among the dead, including one newborn.

Italian state TV quoted survivors as saying the boat had set out five days earlier from Turkey with more than 200 passengers with people from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan onboard.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing government — elected last year on a pledge to stop migrants from coming to Italy — has vowed to stop migrants reaching Italy’s shores and in the last few days pushed through a tough new law tightening the rules on rescues.

The Guardian reported:

The prime minister 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.

Rescues in recent months have resulted in ships being granted ports in central and northern Italy, forcing them to make longer journeys and therefore reducing their time at sea saving lives. Charities had warned that the measure would lead to thousands of deaths.

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