10 migrants dead, dozens missing after two shipwrecks off Italy

10 migrants dead, dozens missing after two shipwrecks off Italy
Scores of migrants were aboard the migrant boats off the southern coast of Italy, which were found overflowing with water by aid groups.
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Migrants from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia often make perilous journeys to reach Italy via boat, risking their lives [Getty/file photo]

Ten migrants have died and dozens of others are feared missing after two shipwrecks off Italy, a migrant rescue charity and the coastguard said Monday.

Rescuers coming to the aid of migrants on a wooden boat off Lampedusa found 10 bodies below deck, the German aid group ResQship posted on X.

The crew aboard ResQship's vessel, the Nadir, "is currently caring for 51 people on board. The rescue came too late for 10 people," the German charity said.

"A total of 61 people were on the wooden boat, which was full of water. Our crew was able to evacuate 51 people, two of whom were unconscious - they had to be cut free with an axe," it said.

"The 10 dead are in the flooded lower deck of the boat," it added.

Meanwhile Italy's coastguard said it was searching off Calabria for people overboard after a separate shipwreck, with media reports saying up to 60 migrants were missing, according to the survivors.

The coastguard said that since last night it has been searching for "possible missing persons, following the shipwreck of a sailing boat with migrants on board, presumably departing from Turkey".

Rescue efforts began after "a 'mayday' from a French pleasure boat sailing off the Italian coast", it said.

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The French vessel alerted authorities to "the presence of the half-sunken boat" before taking 12 surviving migrants on board.

They were then transferred to an Italian coastguard boat, which took them to the town of Roccella Ionica in southern Italy.

One of the surviving 12 died after disembarking, the coastguard said.

Around 50 migrants were missing following the shipwreck, according to the ANSA news agency, while Radio Radicale put the number at 64, adding that those lost at sea were from Afghanistan and Iran.