Nine people including baby die after boat capsizes off Italian island

World 17:40 11.04.2024

  Nine people, including a baby, have died after their boat capsized while trying to cross the Mediterranean in stormy weather, and another 15 people are feared missing, Italy’s coastguard has said, Ednews reports via The Guardian.

The coastguard said on Thursday it had received a cooperation request from Maltese search and rescue officials after the boat capsized about 30 miles (50km) south-east of the island of Lampedusa on Wednesday.

The coastguard said it had dispatched its own patrol boat to the scene, which “rescued 22 survivors and recovered nine deceased individuals, including a baby”.

The rescue operations were particularly challenging due to adverse weather and sea conditions, with waves of up to 2.5 metres, the coastguard added.

On Wednesday, MEPs voted to pass a landmark package of migration and asylum laws, but NGOs said the changes would do nothing to reduce the number of people dying in the Mediterranean while trying to enter the EU.

The nationality of the boat’s passengers was not known. The survivors were taken to Lampedusa, which sits between Tunisia, Malta and the larger Italian island of Sicily, and is often the first landing point for people.

The UNHCR communications officer Filippo Ungaro posted on X late on Wednesday that the survivors were “in a state of hypothermia and shock”.

He said the baby girl was a few months old.

An aircraft from the Italian coastguard was conducting searches for the missing people in the area of the shipwreck.

The deaths came shortly after rescuers farther east in the Mediterranean recovered the bodies of three girls off the Greek island of Chios. The Greek coastguard said on Wednesday that the trio had died after a boat carrying them from nearby Turkey ran into rocks.

Fourteen people, including eight other children, were rescued.

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