At least 62 people died when a ship carrying African migrants toward Italy caught fire and sank early Thursday off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, spilling hundreds of passengers into the sea, Italian officials said.
Antonio Candela, the government’s health commissioner for Palermo, told Sky TG24 television that 62 bodies had been found and that search and rescue operations were continuing.
So far, 141 people have been rescued, but the boat is believed to have been carrying as many as 500 people.
It is the second deadly ship incident this week. On Monday, 13 men drowned just a few meters from shore while trying to reach southern Sicily.
Lampedusa is closer to Africa than the Italian mainland and is the frequent destination for smugglers’ boats.