Survivors: Traffickers left them to die like beasts

2014-07-02 05:00
Migrants off the coast of Lampedusa. (AFP)

Migrants off the coast of Lampedusa. (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Rome - Horrific accounts emerged Tuesday of how 30 migrants were left to die, bolted by traffickers into the suffocating hull of an overcrowded fishing boat, as their bodies were brought to Sicily for burial.

"There were too many of us. They forced us onto the boat, though there was no space left. Those inside, with the hatch closed, they were killed," a young Syrian survivor was quoted as saying by the Corriere della Sera daily.

"When they tried to get out, to escape the heat, the lack of oxygen and the fumes, the traffickers - fearing the boat would capsize - gave the order to keep them inside, bolting the hatch," the paper said.

Sobbing migrants told police of their attempts to rescue their friends and relatives, and of the traffickers' refusal to open the hatch or turn back even as the tiny hold filled with engine fumes.

"We tried to rescue them as soon as we realised what was happening. We did everything, but it was too late. They looked like they were sleeping," one distraught man was quoted by La Repubblica as saying.

Another said "they piled us in like beasts. We asked to turn back but they said it was too late".

Two of the survivors were arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of people trafficking, Italian media reports said.

'New Auschwitz'

Stefano Frumento, captain of the frigate which helped rescue the survivors, described the view as he pulled up alongside the boat, with toddlers, pregnant women and men hanging over the sides, waving their arms and calling out.

"I'd never seen that many people crammed in like that in my life. There were over 600 people crushed into 20m," he told La Stampa daily.

Rescuers at the port of Pozzallo struggled to pull the bodies free from the small blue fishing boat, in which the migrants - for the most part from Syria, Eritrea, Somalia and Cameroon - had set sail from the coast of North Africa for Italy.

"The hold, with dozens of bodies piled one on top of another like a mass grave, is the new Auschwitz of the Mediterranean," police officer Nico Ciavola said.

Firemen armed with chainsaws cut away at the narrow entrance to the hold, while a local parish priest waited on the dock to bless the bodies once they were free.

All the dead were men. Among the survivors were 52 children - including some just a few months old - and three heavily pregnant women, the reports said.

Pozzallo mayor Luigi Ammatuna, watching as hearses carrying steel coffins drove onto the portside, said he had "death in my heart. It's like I've been punched in the stomach".

The survivors were placed in a makeshift reception centre, where they are likely to stay while the investigation into the disaster is carried out.

It is not the first time tragedy has struck the so-called "boats of fortune" used for the perilous crossing to Europe. Last year, two shipwrecks saw over 400 refugees drown near the Italian island of Lampedusa, and a series of smaller tragedies have struck in the last few weeks.

The number of migrant arrivals has now soared past the record 63 000 set in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings, and EU border agency Frontex has warned that calm seas across the summer will encourage many more to attempt the trip.

Read more on:    italy

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
4 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Cape Town - 14:01 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights
  • Thursday Kuils River - 09:13 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Pre-order the Xbox One

Get this all-in-one entertainment system with live TV, movies, social networking and gaming. Pre-order now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy S III 16GB

There are no straight lines in nature. The Samsung  GALAXY...

From R3795.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be putting too much effort into someone or something. You are doing it out of love and compassion but there is a chance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.