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Dozens of People rescued in dramatic Italian shipwreck operation

Dozens of People rescued in dramatic Italian shipwreck operation

Dozens of People rescued in dramatic Italian shipwreck operation

Dozens of People rescued in dramatic Italian shipwreck operation

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  • The rescue team found 10 other men dead below the deck of the ship.
  • Another 64 people were reported missing at sea after a nearby vessel sank near the Italian region of Calabria.
  • The boat had set off from Libya and carried migrants from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
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The captain of an aid ship described how his crew used axes and hammers to rescue migrants trapped in the cargo hold of a sinking wooden boat off the coast of Italy.

Ingo Veert, captain of a RESQSHIP aid vessel, told the BBC’s Today program that his crew first saved 50 migrants stranded on the deck of a distressed boat near the island of Lampedusa, then smashed their way through the ship to rescue two men trapped below deck.

He said they found 10 other men dead below the deck of the ship. Aid workers reported another 64 people still missing at sea after a nearby vessel sank near the Italian region of Calabria.

The second shipwreck occurred about 125 miles off the Italian coast. The country’s coastguard reported that one of the 12 survivors died after disembarking. RESQSHIP stated that survivors of the shipwreck near Lampedusa were handed over to the Italian coastguard and taken ashore on Monday morning. At the same time, the deceased were being towed to the island.

UN agencies said the boats carried migrants who had set off from Libya and Turkey. The Ansa news agency reported they had paid around $3,500 (£2,759) each for the voyage. Mr. Veert, captain of the Nadir rescue ship, said the first reports of “a completely overloaded migrant boat” came over the radio at around 01:30 local time.

He said that by the time the rescue boat reached the vessel around 03:00, it “was almost sinking with water coming in and people completely nervous.” The captain said his crew gave lifejackets to the survivors and used an axe and a hammer to rescue two people from the wreck. Rescuers found one survivor “almost not breathing” with a body temperature of 32C.

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“We opened the deck and made a big hole to bring him out because he was stuck in with a bunch of other [dead] people… He was still alive,” Mr Veert told the news.

“All are very young men between 18 and 25,” he added.

The boat had set off from Libya and carried migrants from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, according to a joint statement from the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the UN children’s agency UNICEF. In a separate disaster near Calabria, aid agencies reported that several children were unaccounted for.

Survivors told Shakilla Mohammadi of MSF that 66 people, including at least 26 children, some only a few months old, were unaccounted for.

“Entire families from Afghanistan are presumed dead. They left Turkey eight days ago and had taken in water for three or four days. They told us they had no life vests and some vessels did not stop to help them,” she said in a statement.

According to UN data, more than 23,500 migrants have died or gone missing in the waters of the Mediterranean since 2014, making it the deadliest known migration route in the world.

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