STECCATO, ITALY: Italian police on Tuesday arrested three alleged traffickers – two Pakistanis and a Turkish national – who were also onboard the ill-fated boat on Sunday which they loaded with migrants heading for Europe.
The death toll from a devastating shipwreck off Italy’s southern coast rose to 64 on Tuesday, while the three men were in detention accused of human trafficking, officials said.
According to reports, at least 30 Pakistanis died and 17 were rescued after their overloaded boat sank in stormy seas off Italy’s southern Calabria region.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry, in a tweet, also confirmed on Tuesday that two more Pakistanis lost their lives in the boat tragedy.
Italy’s coastguard on Tuesday morning recovered another body on the beach at Steccato, in the southern region of Calabria, bringing the death toll to 64, a spokeswoman for the fire service told AFP.
She said the number of dead was expected to further rise, although it was unclear how many people were on the boat.
The coffins of the dead have been laid out in a sports hall in Crotone, to allow mourners to pay their respects.
The migrants’ overloaded wooden vessel broke up and sank early Sunday in stormy seas, with bodies, shoes and debris washing up along a long stretch of shoreline.
EU border agency Frontex had earlier spotted a ship which it said had been carrying about 200 people sailing towards Italy, but two patrol boats dispatched by the Italian authorities were unable to intercept the vessel due to the bad weather.
The Italian coastguard on Sunday said about 150 people had been on board, with 79 survivors rescued.