At least two people have died and dozens more are missing after three boats carrying migrants from Africa capsized in rough seas off the coast of Italy over the weekend. The Italian Coast Guard rescued 57 survivors from two of the boats and recovered the bodies of a boy and a woman. Another 20 migrants were stranded on a rocky reef near the island of Lampedusa for nearly two days before being airlifted to safety by helicopters on Sunday.
The three boats are believed to have departed from Sfax, a port in Tunisia, on Thursday, when the weather conditions were favorable for crossing the Mediterranean Sea. However, the weather worsened on Saturday, making the journey more dangerous and difficult. The smugglers who organized the trips have been accused of being “criminals” by the UN migration agency IOM, which said that they used “fragile iron vessels that after 24 hours often break in two, and the migrants fall into the sea”.
The survivors of the shipwrecks told rescuers that about 30 people were missing from one boat and three from another. They also said that some of their fellow migrants had died of hypothermia or drowned in the water. The coast guard is still searching for any possible survivors or bodies in the area.