The Italian coast guard and firefighters have recovered more than 30 bodies after a wooden migrant boat broke apart in rough seas Sunday near the southern coast of Italy’s mainland, authorities reported.
State TV quoted the local prefect's office as saying that by late morning 33 bodies had been recovered and 58 people were rescued. The Italian news agency AGI said that among the bodies was that of a baby a few months old.
Quoting unidentified port authorities near the coastal town of Crotone, in Calabria, the toe of the Italian peninsula, RAI state radio said the boat was carrying more than 100 migrants when it ran into trouble at dawn in the Ionian Sea. The Italian news agency Lapresse later quoted unidentified officials among rescue forces as saying there could have been as many as 180 people aboard.
State TV said some 27 of the survivors made it to shore, apparently on their own.
Wooden pieces of wreckage littered the beach at Steccato di Cutro, near the point where the boat apparently broke apart.
Firefighters, including rescue divers, had recovered 28 bodies, including three pulled by a strong current far away from the wreckage.
“It's an enormous tragedy,” Crotone Mayor Vincenzo Voce told RAI state TV.
“In solidarity, the city will find places in the cemetery” for the dead, Voce said.
Details about the nationalities of the migrants were not immediately provided in the reports.
It was not immediately clear where the boat had set out from, but migrant vessels arriving in Calabria usually depart from Turkish or Egyptian shores. Many of these boats, including sailboats, often reach remote stretches of Italy's long southern coastline unaided by the coast guard or humanitarian rescue vessels.