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26th Feb 2023

At least 30 migrants drown after boat breaks apart off southern coast of Italy

Steve Hopkins

A record 45,728 migrants made the crossing on small boats last year

At least 30 migrants, including a baby just a few months old, have drowned after their boat broke up off the southern coast of Italy’s mainland, reports on Sunday said.

Update: As of Sunday afternoon the death toll is thought to be 58, with several children and a baby among the dead.

RAI state radio reported that the vessel was carrying more than 100 migrants when it ran into trouble at dawn in the Ionian sea.

By mid-morning, about 40 survivors had been found, said Luca Cari, a spokesperson for firefighters who were involved in rescue efforts, ABC reported.

Vigili del Fuoco, Italy’s institutional agency for fire and rescue service, said the boat ran aground off Steccato di Cutro, in the province of Crotone, Sky News reported.

Italian media reports said around 30 bodies were found washed up on the shores at the seaside resort, while three other bodies were found in the water.

The Italian news agency AGI put the number of recovered bodies at 27 and said a baby a few months old was among the dead.

Cari did not confirm the death toll as rescue efforts are still underway, saying only that: “At the moment there are various victims.”

The boat, bringing migrants from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, crashed against rocks during rough sea weather, Adnkronos news agency said.

A record 45,728 made the crossing on small boats last year, up more than 60 per cent on the previous year, Sky News noted.

The tragedy also comes as the UK’s asylum backlog has topped 160,000 for the first time since current records began, with a total of 160,919 asylum seekers currently waiting for an initial decision on their claim at the end of December, the broadcaster reported.

Home Office figures published Thursday show this was up 60 per cent, from 100,564 for, the same period in 2021 and the highest figure since current records began in 2010.

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