More than 30 migrants, including a baby, died and dozens more were rescued after their overcrowded boat capsized in rough seas off the coast of southern Italy.
The vessel reportedly broke up while attempting to land near the coastal town of Crotone in the Calabria region, with approximately 100 people aboard.
Many bodies have been recovered from a nearby seaside resort’s beach.
Every year, a large number of people fleeing conflict and poverty make the journey from Africa to Italy.
The origin of this boat is unknown, but the Adnkronos news agency reported that those aboard were from Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
According to the news agency, the ship sank after colliding with rocks during rough weather.
The Italian government has launched a massive search-and-rescue operation both on land and at sea.
The death toll “has surpassed 30,” according to Danilo Maida, a spokesman for Calabria firefighters. “Several migrants have been reported dead, (and) approximately 40 survivors,” the national firefighters’ department wrote on the Telegram messaging app.
“There had been landings before, but never a tragedy like this,” Cruto mayor Antonio Ceraso told Rai News.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who was elected last year on a promise to stem the flow of migrants into Italy, expressed “deep sorrow” for the incident, blaming traffickers for the deaths.
“It is inhumane to trade the lives of men, women, and children for the cost of the ‘ticket’ they paid in the false hope of a safe journey,” she said in a statement.
“The government is committed, and will continue to be committed, to preventing departures and, with them, the unfolding of these tragedies.”
Ms Meloni’s right-wing government has vowed to stop migrants from reaching Italy’s shores and has recently passed a tough new law tightening rescue rules.