An empty boat in the middle of the Mediterranean | COPYRIGHT: DW/Y.Gostoli
An empty boat in the middle of the Mediterranean | COPYRIGHT: DW/Y.Gostoli

The Italian coastguard has located at least 12 bodies and the wreck of a migrant boat that sank last week off the island of Lampedusa.

A submarine robot discovered the deceased and their boat at a depth of about 60 meters under sea level. Among the dead bodies was a young woman holding a baby, presumed to be a mother and her child.

The unseaworthy vessel sank on October 7 with the provisional death toll of 13 at the time. There were 22 survivors, who told authorities that at least 15 more people were missing at the time, including several children.

The smugglers' boat had departed Tunisia, reportedly with about 50 people on board, most of whom were West Africans and Tunisians.

Bodies to be retrieved

The coastguard will send scuba divers to recover the bodies over the next three days, according to local prosecutor Salvatore Vella.

Vella told Italian media that further victims may yet be found near the wreckage, adding that the coastguard had "put in all of their professionalism and also their heart" to find the sunken boat.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 660 people have died or went missing this year in the Central Mediterranean, which is considered to be the world's most dangerous sea migration route.

with AP, dpa

 

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