ROME (AP) — Sea searches resumed on Sunday in the sea and along the coasts of southwestern Sicily, where a fishing boat carrying dozens of migrants became grounded, killing five people and leaving about 20 missing, rescuers said.
The bodies of five men were recovered on Saturday morning on the beach of Marinella di Selinunte, near Trapani, while 35 other men survived the shipwreck and were identified after reaching small towns nearby, the Coast Guard said.
“According to survivors’ accounts the boat departed from Tunisia on Thursday night with about 60 people onboard,” said Captain Daniele Governale, of the Palermo Coast Guard team that is coordinating search and rescue activities.
“That would leave about 20 people missing. But considering that wide searches at sea, also conducted by divers, for now gave no results, we have good hopes that some of them have survived and landed,” Governale added.
The flux of people arriving on Italy’s shores on small unseaworthy boats departing from North African countries has surged in recent months.
More than 142,000 migrants have reached Italy since January, compared with 82,000 over the same period last year, according to Interior Ministry data.
The Mediterranean remains one of the most dangerous migration routes in the world. According to the International Organization for Migration, about 2,500 people have died or gone missing during the perilous crossing since the beginning of the year.
Italy’s coalition government, led by right-wing Premier Giorgia Meloni, who had pledged to crack down on illegal immigration, recently approved tougher rules in an attempt to limit arrivals, including longer detention terms for irregular migrants.