Death toll in Italian migrant shipwreck rises to 61

ROME (Reuters): The death toll in a migrant shipwreck near the southern Italian coast has risen to 61, an Italian official said on Monday, as searches continued for missing people.

The wooden sailing boat carrying migrants to Europe had sailed from Turkiye and crashed early on Sunday against rocks near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria.

A total of 61 people have been found dead so far, while 80 were rescued, said Manuela Curra, a provincial government official.

The vessel was carrying people from Afghanistan, Iran and several other countries, and the victims included 12 children, authorities said earlier.

Based on reports from survivors, authorities believe 180 to 200 people in total had been on board the vessel, she added.

One survivor was arrested on migrant trafficking charges on Sunday, but the Guardia di Finanza customs police said they were finalizing the arrest of two more people on suspicion of cooperating with the alleged smuggler.

Charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), operating on the ground, said they were assisting several people who had lost relatives in the shipwreck.

“We have cases of children who became orphans, such as a 12-year-old Afghan boy who lost his entire family, a family of nine people, including four siblings, parents and other close relatives,” said Sergio Di Dato, from MSF.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said that more than two dozen Pakistanis were believed to have been among those who drowned.