Italian authorities this Tuesday arrested three people suspected of smuggling up to 200 migrants on the wooden boat that sank on Sunday off the beach of Steccato di Cutro, near Crotone, Calabria region. So far, 64 deaths have been recorded, 14 of which are children, and rescue teams continue to search for victims.
The coffins were transported to the Crotone town pavilion, where the bereaved families identify the victims. Speaking to Reuters, rescue teams revealed that most migrants come from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia and Syria.
The psychologist Mara Eliana Tunno, Doctors Without Borders, stresses that among the survivors “everyone has lost someone”. A 12-year-old boy lost his entire family; another, a 16-year-old Afghan, lost his sister and “didn’t have the courage to tell his parents.”
The suspects, of Pakistani and Turkish nationality, were identified by the survivors as “mainly responsible” for the trip between Turkey and Italy, which took place under “terrible weather conditions”, reported Lieutenant Colonel Alberto Lippolis. Initial investigations lead to the conclusion that each migrant was forced to pay “about eight thousand euros for the deadly journey”, he said.
Contacted by Reuters, a judicial source revealed that one of the detainees is a minor. The authorities are still looking for a fourth suspect, of Turkish nationality.
Trauma and political debate
The tragedy in the region of Calabria reinforced the debate in Italy and Europe on immigration.
New laws against organizations involved in rescuing migrants passed by the right-wing government of Giorgia Meloni have drawn criticism from the United Nations and others. The Italian prime minister said, on Monday, in an interview with public television RAI, that she had written to the institutions of the European Union, in order to appeal for the interruption of the travel of migrants and, thus, to prevent more deaths.
Some elements of the Green party organized, this Tuesday, a protest action in front of Giorgia Meloni’s office with the aim of questioning the failures of the rescue, since the boat had been identified during the night of Saturday. The police clarified that boats were sent to intercept the migrants, but that bad weather conditions forced them to return to the port.