Last week a boat capsized near the Italian island of Lampedusa. Approximately fifty refugees on board, thirteen of whom died. A week after the shipwreck, the Italian coastguard, to her dismay, found another twelve bodies, including a mother who died in a close embrace with her eight-month-old baby.
Last week thirteen bodies – all young women – were salvaged, and the Italian coast guard rescued 22 people. Then the boat sank, about sixty meters deep. Soon the survivors said that a total of about 52 people were taking on the ship, so the coast guard kept looking for the missing persons.
It took until Tuesday for the divers to locate the boat. After which, yesterday, to their dismay, they counted 12 more bodies on the bottom of the Mediterranean. Among the victims is also a young woman with a baby in her arms. The child was estimated to be only eight months old. The divers probably need three days to bring all bodies to the surface.
Reason for capsizing
Why the boat capsized is not yet entirely clear. A reconstruction estimate shows that all crew members moved to the same side as soon as a rescue ship approached, causing their boat to scoop up and tip over water.
One of the young men on board the boat witnessed how a child grabbed his leg firmly, in an attempt to save himself. The man had to let go of the child to free himself from the sinking boat after which he could not find it anymore. Later it turned out to be one of the victims.
More than 1,000 deaths
According to the survivors, the group left Libya with mostly West Africans on board. The boat then stopped in Tunisia where another thirteen young Tunisians boarded before heading for the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
More than a thousand people were killed this year when crossing the Mediterranean Sea, according to a spokesperson for the UN refugee organization UNHCR.