STORY: Pieces of boat wreckage washed ashore on Italy’s southern coast on Sunday…
Small signs of the disaster the unfolded before dawn… when a boat carrying migrants crashed into rocks and sank in rough seas… leaving at least a dozen children dead, as well as scores of others, according to authorities.
A baby - only a few months old - was among the first ones recovered, according to an Italian news agency.
Italian police said the boat set sail from Turkey about four days ago.
Survivors said the boat may have been carrying as many as 200 people… and were from countries including Afghanistan and Iran.
The vessel crashed near a seaside resort in the region of Calabria and the interior minister said as many as 30 people could still be missing.
Police said an EU border agency plane had spotted the migrant boat the day before, about 46 miles from the coast.
But patrol boats - sent to intercept it - had to return to port because of the severe weather.
The incident reopened a debate on migration in Europe and Italy, where the recently-elected right-wing government's tough new laws for migrant rescue charities have drawn criticism from groups such the United Nations.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed deep sorrow for the deaths, and blamed human traffickers who profit while offering migrants quote, "the false prospect of a safe journey."
Calabria’s governor Roberto Occhiuto called it a tragedy that should have been avoided.
“It is a day of grief for Calabria,” he said, adding,
“Calabria is a region that welcomes people. Last year we welcomed 18,000 migrants but we can’t be abandoned by Europe.”
Italy is one of the main landing points for migrants trying to enter Europe by sea.
Many want to go on to richer northern European nations, but to do so they must brave the world’s most dangerous migration route.
The UN’s Missing Migrants Project estimates more than 220 have died or disappeared in the central Mediterranean so far this year.