Seven migrants lost their lives of apparent hypothermia on a packed wooden boat, the Italian Coast Guard said after rescuing about 280 others off the coast of Lampedusa.
The Italian coast guard said, “When I reached for rescue in rough water, three people were killed, and four others died on the way to Lampedusa. Many of the migrants were from Bangladesh and Egypt.”
The Coast Guard said, two Coast Guard boats made the rescue, while a boat from Italy’s Financial Police was parked during an operation that was further complicated by poor sea conditions.
Italian officials said the 20-metre (65-foot) boat was in Tunisian waters when the crisis first struck, but they were unable to locate the boat. It was later found in an Italian search and rescue area.
The NGO Alarm Phone, which put forwards rescue calls to authorities from smugglers’, tweeted that it took Italian rescue boats six hours to reach migrants in distress.
“Their demise could be prevented,” the coast guard group commented.
Arrivals in Italy this year are notably higher than the previous two winters, totalling 2,051, compared to 872 in the same period last year and 835 a year before that. Arrival usually peaks in the summer months.
The International Organization for Migration has declared 2021 as the death-dealing for the central Mediterranean crossing route since 2018, killing at least 1,315 people. The bodies are often not recovered, and the deaths are assumed from the accounts of the survivors. More than 23,383 migrants have been missing and presumed dead in the Mediterranean Sea since 2014, 80% of them in the central Mediterranean.