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More than 40 migrants, including a months-old baby, were drowned and another 50 were rescued after their boat broke and sank in the rough seas off the coast of southern Italy

The wooden boat allegedly ran into trouble at dawn in the Ionian Sea on Sunday near the southern coast of Italy’s mainland with over 200 migrants onboard, authorities reported.  

The Italian coast guard and firefighters have recovered more than 40 bodies after the accident near the coastal town of Crotone in the Calabria region. 

State TV quoted the local prefect’s office as saying that by late morning 33 bodies had been recovered and 80 people were rescued. 

The Italian news agency AGI said that among the bodies was that of a baby a few months old.

The wooden boat allegedly ran into trouble at dawn in the Ionian Sea on Sunday near the southern coast of Italy's mainland with 100 migrants onboard

The wooden boat allegedly ran into trouble at dawn in the Ionian Sea on Sunday near the southern coast of Italy’s mainland with 100 migrants onboard

Italian firefighters gather at the scene where bodies of migrants washed ashore following the shipwreck

Rescue workers patrolling the sea near the coastal town of Crotone

The Italian coast guard and firefighters have recovered more than 40 bodies after the accident near the coastal town of Crotone

The video captured by Italian coastguards shows the devastating wreckage in the pitch dark night as the rough waves crash onto the shore.

A large amounts of debris is seen as the wrecked migrant boat lies on the edge of the shore – wood and other materials are scattered across the sand.

Guards searched the boat thoroughly using a torch in the early hours of the morning. 

In another clip, two coastguard service boats are filmed searching the rough waves during the daytime for endangered migrants following the disaster. 

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Italian rescue services said: ‘At the current time, 80 people have been recovered alive, including some who managed to reach the shore after the sinking,’ the coastguard said in a statement.

‘Forty-three bodies have been found along the coastline,’ it added.

Rescue workers told AFP that the vessel was carrying ‘more than 200 people’, around 50 of whom had been brought to safety.

‘Dozens and dozens of people drowned, including children. Lots missing. Calabria is in mourning after this terrible tragedy,’ regional governor Roberto Occhiuto said.

Coastguard service boats were filmed searching the rough waves during the daytime for endangered migrants following the disaster

Coastguard service boats were filmed searching the rough waves during the daytime for endangered migrants following the disaster

Italian firefighters and Red Cross personnel gather at the scene where bodies of migrants washed ashore

Italian firefighters and Red Cross personnel gather at the scene where bodies of migrants washed ashore

State TV said some 27 of the survivors made it to shore, apparently on their own.

Wooden pieces of wreckage littered the beach at Steccato di Cutro, near the point where the boat apparently broke apart.

Firefighters, including rescue divers, had recovered multiple bodies, including three pulled by a strong current far away from the wreckage.

‘It’s an enormous tragedy,’ Crotone Mayor Vincenzo Voce told RAI state TV.

‘In solidarity, the city will find places in the cemetery’ for the dead, Voce said.

Details about the nationalities of the migrants were not immediately provided in the reports.

It was not immediately clear where the boat had set out from, but migrant vessels arriving in Calabria usually depart from Turkish or Egyptian shores. 

Many of these boats, including sailboats, often reach remote stretches of Italy’s long southern coastline unaided by the coast guard or humanitarian rescue vessels.

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Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the post-Fascist Brothers of Italy party, won power in October, partly on a promise to stem the flow of migrants reaching Italian shores.

Pictured: A group of people assisted by emergency services at the beach

Pictured: A group of people assisted by emergency services at the beach

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said it was 'criminal to put a boat of barely 20 metres (66 feet) to sea with 200 people onboard and a bad weather forecast

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said it was ‘criminal to put a boat of barely 20 metres (66 feet) to sea with 200 people onboard and a bad weather forecast

Expressing ‘deep pain’ over the latest deaths, Meloni said it was ‘criminal to put a boat of barely 20 metres (66 feet) to sea with 200 people onboard and a bad weather forecast’.

‘The government is committed to preventing departures, and with them, this type of tragedy,’ she added in a statement, adding it demanded the ‘greatest’ collaboration of states from where migrants set off and originate.

The latest such tragedy comes just days after the government pushed through parliament a controversial new law on rescuing would-be migrants.

The new law forces migrant aid vessels to make just one rescue attempt at a time, which critics say risks increasing the number of drownings in the central Mediterranean.

The route is considered the most dangerous crossing in the world for people seeking asylum in Europe.

A large proportion of people fleeing conflict and poverty, for what they hope will be a better life in Europe, cross from Africa via Italy.

According to the interior ministry, nearly 14,000 migrants have arrived in Italy by sea so far this year, up from 5,200 over the same period last year and 4,200 in the first two months of 2021.

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Charities rescuing people in difficulty at sea bring only a fraction of migrants ashore.

The route is considered the most dangerous crossing in the world for people seeking asylum in Europe

The route is considered the most dangerous crossing in the world for people seeking asylum in Europe

Most of those who were rescued were plucked from the waters by coast guards or the navy

Most of those who were rescued were plucked from the waters by coast guards or the navy

Most of those who are rescued are plucked from the dangerous waters by coast guards or the navy.

Despite this, the government in Rome accuses rescue charities of encouraging migrants to attempt the crossing and boosting the fortunes of human traffickers.

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said the latest disaster ‘shows how absolutely necessary it is to staunchly combat illegal immigration’.

Centrist former economy minister Carlo Calenda reacted on Twitter: ‘People in difficulty at sea should be rescued, whatever the cost, without penalising those trying to help them.’

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