More than 30 people died and more than 40 survived after a migrant boat sank in southern Italy, a spokesman for the Italian fire service said on Sunday.
The wreck occurred near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the east coast of Calabria, the region that forms the pinnacle of Italian shipping.
The death toll “exceeded 30,” Danilo Maida, a spokesman for the fire service in Calabria, told Reuters, adding that the count was provisional.
Firefighters and other emergency services were searching the sea for more survivors using jet skis, but conditions were rough, making the search difficult, he added.
Earlier, the Italian news agency ANSA reported that 27 bodies were found on the beach and that more bodies were found in the sea.
“It is a huge tragedy that shows the absolute need to act decisively against irregular migration channels,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piandedosi said in a statement.
It is “essential” to stop sea crossings which, by offering migrants the “false mirage of a better life” in Europe, enrich traffickers and “cause tragedies like today”, he added.
On their official Telegram channel, firefighters said they had recovered 28 bodies and reported that the migrant boat ran aground on the coast.
Adnkronos news agency reported that more than 100 people were on board, while AGI, another Italian news agency, said a baby and several children were among the dead.
The boat, which was carrying migrants from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, crashed on rocks during rough seas, Adnkronos said.
The Italian coastguard, said to be at the scene with firefighters and other police forces, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Italy is one of the main disembarkation points for migrants trying to enter Europe by sea. The so-called central Mediterranean route is known as one of the most dangerous in the world.
According to the International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Programme, 20,333 people have died or gone missing in the central Mediterranean since 2014.