73 dead after boat sinks off Italy’s coast; ‘lots more’ in sea
ROME — A boat carrying hundreds of migrants went down off Italy’s southern coast on Thursday, killing 73 people and leaving many more in the sea, an Italian coast guard official said.
Commander Floriana Segreto told NBC News that 151 people had been rescued and the search for survivors was continuing, adding that “lots more” people remained in the water.
The vessel sank in the Mediterranean Sea off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
Lampedusa Mayor Giusy Nicolini told Reuters the death toll was rising and the victims were mostly Somalis and Eritreans.
“It’s horrific, like a cemetery, they are still bringing them out,” Nicolini said, adding that the dead included at least one child and a pregnant woman.
Officials said there were between 400 and 500 migrants on the boat when it sank, according to Reuters.
Coast guard ships and helicopters from across the region, as well as local fishing boats were on the scene trying to find survivors, coast guard spokesman Marco Di Milla told The Associated Press.
It was one of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks in recent times and the second one this week off Italy: On Monday, 13 men drowned while trying to reach southern Sicily when their ship ran aground just a few yards from shore.
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. NBC News’ Alexander Smith reported from London.
This image taken from a video released by the Italian coast guard shows some of the passengers rescued near Lampedusa early on Thursday