Backpacks, bottles and beach toys: the shipwreck in Calabria shook Italy to its foundations

Backpacks, bottles and beach toys: the shipwreck in Calabria shook Italy to its foundations

A Coast Guard helicopter, military vessel and dozens of divers continue to search for bodies in the Calabrian Sea, where an old wooden fishing boat with about 180 people on board broke into dozens of pieces early Sunday. At 8:15 am they collect the body of another man. He is victim number 62. Still, the number of tragedies, one of the worst in recent years on the Italian coast, will continue to rise.

The beach of Steccato di Cutro is completely covered by the remains of the shipwreck on Monday morning. More than a kilometer are piled up the pieces of the old wooden fishing boat, destroyed by the strong waves of the storm that is ravaging the coast of Calabria these days. He came from Izmir in western Turkey. He had sailed for four days with 14 minors, a newborn baby and pregnant women on board. The sand now contains backpacks, baby bottles, medicine kits, trainers and toys from the children who perished, whose bodies rest with the rest of the victims in Croton’s Sports Palace, which has been prepared for 75 coffins. “It’s a great tragedy. Speechless,” said Antonio Ceraso, mayor of Cutro, the Calabrian town on the coast where the fishing boat sank, with a broken voice.

The number of victims grows and their story becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Doctors Without Borders communicates some cases. An Afghan woman who lost her husband and is desperate. A 16-year-old boy of the same nationality left without his 28-year-old sister: they arrived at the beach together, but she was already dead and he still didn’t dare tell his parents. He doesn’t know how to do this. A 43-year-old man, also an Afghan, with a 14-year-old son who lost three children aged 13, 9 and 5. Also your wife. A 12-year-old boy, of the same nationality, who was left without a family (nine in total), including parents and siblings. A Somali woman who lost her brother. Some have been identified by the organization with numbers and letters. The list goes on. All lost at least one family member or partner. Many confessed to MSF psychologists that they felt deep guilt for leaving their loved ones behind to fend for themselves.

Remains of the boat after sinking on a beach near Cutro, in southern Italy, this Monday Valeria Ferraro (AP) No life jackets

The survivors are in hospitals or in a shelter on Isola di Capo Rizzuto, a few kilometers from the wreck beach. There are also three Turks who blame the police for the trip. They are charged with manslaughter and human trafficking. They were the first to escape before the heavy waves broke the ship into a thousand pieces and they reached the shore. It is believed they were lying on the beach wearing life jackets, which many of the passengers were not wearing.


Firefighters continue to work to save a migrant alive. “We have not lost hope yet,” says the captain ashore. “But technically it is very difficult. The beach is four kilometers long and the waves are still very high. We couldn’t use the boats,” he emphasises. Criticism of the rescue procedure is high. Doctors Without Borders, whose ship is being dismantled in Ancona by the Italian government, believes it has failed and been delayed. The NGO coordinator for rescues in the Central Mediterranean, Juan Matías Gil, denounced this delay in Cadena SER. “The Italian Coast Guard is very well prepared to navigate in adverse conditions. What is not said is that the initial search was made by the financial vigilante, who clearly have less money and resources. “If the Coast Guard had gone out, the boat would have been found sooner and more people could have been rescued,” he concludes.

For the first time, all transalpine authorities have agreed to demand strong and concerted action from Brussels to put an end to these tragedies. The President of the Republic himself, Sergio Mattarella, underlined it as follows: “It is equally important that the European Union finally takes on the specific responsibility of regulating the phenomenon of migration, of keeping it away from traffickers and getting directly involved in migration policy, to support development cooperation in countries where young people have to flee because of a lack of prospects”.

A Coast Guard helicopter joins the search for the beach of Steccato di Cutro, where the boat sank. Daniel Verdu

Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi paid a short visit to the construction site on Sunday. So far, no one from the Italian government has gone to the beach of tragedy. Nor is it expected that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the architect of a strict anti-immigration policy that culminated in the decree restricting the activities of NGOs operating in the Mediterranean, will do the same. The route the ship took from Turkey usually does not have this type of rescue craft. In addition, the boat sank just 150 meters from the Italian coast. But the event once again bloodily marks the failure of the migration policies of Italy and the European Union.

The tragedy of Steccato di Cutro now resembles the October 2013 shipwreck off Lampedusa, which left 368 migrants dead and another 20 missing. In this case, the ship made the Mediterranean route between Italy and Liba. And the catastrophe on the Sicilian island, where the pope went to mass, became the cornerstone of a debate about immigration that began in Italy and led to the great populist storm of recent years. Calabria now speaks of different kinds of problems and of a different country than the one then ruled by the left and now by the extreme right. Since then almost everything has changed. Minus the humiliating death toll and the community’s failure to reach an agreement between the European Union and the member states where disasters strike.

Source: La Neta Neta