The bodies of 13 immigrants have washed up on the coast of Sicily after a boat carrying 200 people ran aground as it approached the shore.When the boat ran into difficulties in rough seas near the coastal town of Scicli this morning, the migrants it was carrying jumped into the sea.Most made it to shore and ran away, but a number of men were unable to swim strongly enough and drowned.
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Rescue boats and divers are now combing the waters looking for more bodies. Two alleged leaders have been arrested on suspicion of people-trafficking, according to Italian newspapers.
One of the alleged smugglers is said to have lashed out at a swimmer who tried to rescue him from the water.
As well as the 13 men who drowned, a number of other immigrants had to be rescued, and several – including a pregnant woman – were taken to hospital for treatment.
One immigrant who tried to escape after reaching the shore was hit by a car on a nearby road and suffered serious injuries.
In addition, 20 children are among the 70 migrants apprehended so far, most of whom came from Eritrea in East Africa, according to Corriere Della Sera.
The nationality of the 13 victims, whose bodies were laid out on the shore, is not yet known.
However, Sicily and surrounding islands are notorious hotspots for immigrants arriving by boats from Tunisia, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa.
The region has also attracted a large number of Syrian immigrants in recent weeks following the continued violence in the country’s civil war.
This is not the first time in recent months that illegal migrants making the desperate journey to Italy have drowned on the way.
Last month six migrants died after they jumped out of a boat off the coast of Sicily.
The fishing trawler was illegally transporting some 100 migrants when it hit a sandbank about 15 metres (50 feet) from the shore.
t is thought that the six victims, believed to be Egyptian, thought they had arrived onshore and so jumped overboard.
They were identified as being between 17 and 27 years of age.
The 27-year-old was trying for a fifth time to get into Italy, investigators said following the incident in August.
In July seven immigrants drowned while trying to hold on to a fishing cage being towed to shore.
THE DESPERATE JOURNEY TO ITALY
Sicily and the islands surrounding are hotspots for illegal immigrants arriving by sea from Tunisia, Libya and sub-Saharan Africa hoping for a better quality of life and employment. Recently, following continued violence in the country, a growing number of Syrian immigrants have fled to the region hoping for protection from the raging civil war. Often the immigrant’s desperate journey ends in tragedy. Last month six migrants died after they jumped out of a boat off the coast of Sicily. Some 100 migrants where aboard a boat when it hit a sandbank close to the shore. Six perished as they tried to swim to land. In July seven drowned after they tried to hold onto a fishing cage which was being towed to shore off the coast of Sicily.