A tragic shipwreck off the coast of Italy claims the lives of forty-one migrants.
Survivors informed local media that a shipwreck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa has tragically claimed the lives of forty-one migrants.
The survivors, a group of four individuals hailing from the Ivory Coast and Guinea, shared their harrowing account with rescuers. They recounted embarking on a journey from Sfax in Tunisia towards Italy, only to have their vessel sink en route.
These resilient survivors, consisting of three men and a woman, managed to reach Lampedusa on Wednesday. They revealed that they were part of a group of 45 people, including three children, on a boat that was a mere 7 meters (20 feet) in length.
Tragedy struck shortly after the boat departed from Sfax the previous Thursday, as a powerful wave caused it to capsize within hours. Shockingly, only 15 people were equipped with life vests.
Their tale continues as they were rescued by a cargo ship and subsequently transferred to an Italian coast guard vessel. The Italian coast guard had reported two shipwrecks in the vicinity on Sunday, though it remains uncertain whether the vessel these survivors were on was one of those involved.
This heartbreaking incident adds to the grim statistics of over 1,800 lives lost this year during the perilous journey from North Africa to Europe.
Tunisian authorities say Sfax, a port city about 80 miles (130km) from Lampedusa, is a popular gateway for migrants seeking safety and a better life in Europe.
In recent days, Italian patrol boats and charity groups have rescued another 2,000 people who have arrived on Lampedusa.
Tunisia has seen a wave of racism against black Africans in recent months and attempts to leave the country by boat have increased.
The United Nations has registered more than 17,000 deaths and disappearances in the central Mediterranean since 2014, making it the most dangerous migrant crossing in the world.
Last month, the EU signed a $118m (£90m) deal with Tunisia in a bid to curb “irregular” migration.
The money is to be spent on efforts to stop smuggling, strengthen borders and return migrants.
Italy’s far-right government has adopted a policy that forces rescue ships to dock at ports further away, rather than letting them disembark rescued migrants in Lampedusa or Sicily.
It says the aim is to spread arrivals across the country, but NGOs say the policy reduces the amount of time they can patrol areas where shipwrecks are more common.