(Rome) More than 20 illegal migrants are missing off the coast of Italy, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday, as good weather prompted new attempts to make perilous crossings of the Mediterranean. .
“Two shipwrecked off Lampedusa and 22 missing. Condolences to those who lost family members at sea,” Chiara Cardoletti, a UNHCR representative, wrote on Twitter.
The 36 survivors of the first sinking told the Italian coast guard that 19 people on board their boat died after it capsized, a UNHCR press officer said.
Three other people died in a second incident, according to the same source.
The Italian Coast Guard was unavailable for comment.
The survivors of the first shipwreck, including six minors, were traveling aboard a seven-meter-long boat that sank in Italian waters, according to the daily La Repubblica. They were rescued by a fishing boat, he added.
Those rescued were from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast and Sudan, and had paid between 500 and 600 euros (750 and 900 Canadian dollars) for the crossing, according to the daily La Stampa.
After four days of poor sea conditions, the number of boats attempting the crossing to the Italian island of Lampedusa increased further on Sunday.
On Monday, there were 1,094 people at the Lampedusa migrant reception center, built to accommodate just under 400 people.
More than 36,000 people have arrived by sea in Italy this year, compared to some 9,000 in the same period last year, according to the Interior Ministry.
Since the beginning of the year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has recorded 537 deaths or disappearances in the central Mediterranean.