ROME (AP) — A migrant boat overturned Wednesday off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa just as rescue crews were arriving, and seven bodies were pulled from the sea, authorities said.
Another 46 people were rescued and the search is continuing for any others. An estimated 60 people were packed onto the 8-meter (25-foot) boat, Italy’s coast guard said in a statement.
Two coast guard ships had responded to a distress call from a migrant boat 7 miles off Lampedusa. As the rescuers neared, the passengers “suddenly shifted” their positions, likely causing the boat to flip, the statement said.
Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than to the Italian mainland, is one of the main destinations of Libyan-based human traffickers.
Nearly 20,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, three times as many as this time last year and nearly 10 times as many as in 2019, according to Interior Ministry statistics.
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