'I begged her to wait' - husband's final call to wife killed in migrant shipwreck
Johannes Pleschberger in Crotone

Questions are being asked in Italy over delays in the rescue response after a boat carrying migrants and refugees sank on Sunday, killing at least 67 people. 

When the boat was first seen on Saturday evening, authorities initially raised the alert for suspected criminal activity - not for a rescue. Only at 4 am (local time) the following day was a rescue operation launched, confirmed the chief prosecutor of the city of Crotone.

According to Italy's coastguard, the rules for a rescue mission are "very complicated."

"The passengers were waiting for hours for help," Rolf, a cousin of one of the deceased, told CGTN Europe after speaking with some of the survivors.


Where are Ukraine's refugees?

Searching for sustainability

'My heart is back home in Ukraine'

While everyone in Italy seems to agree that rescue could have been activated earlier, local migration lawyer Sergio Trolio sees the government as responsible for this tragic event.

Trolio told CGTN: "The boat was spotted at night. And even if the sea was rough they could have easily intervened - they could have intercepted it earlier. In my opinion, the government is responsible for holding up the arrival of aid - with the deliberate aim of preventing these people from arriving."

Debris from the sunken wooden boat on the shore in Calabria. /CGTN
Debris from the sunken wooden boat on the shore in Calabria. /CGTN

Debris from the sunken wooden boat on the shore in Calabria. /CGTN

Meanwhile mothers, husbands and friends of the deceased had the chance to say goodbye to their loved ones in a makeshift morgue filled with coffins.

"In here lies my wife's brother. And in the coffin over there is my wife Mina Afghanzadeh," said Wais, an Afghan who lives in Germany. He came to Calabria to identify the body of his wife. It's a death that he says could have been prevented.

"In Germany, I applied for a visa for my wife to join me, but the visa was rejected," he said. "My wife had been waiting in Türkiye for three years to be reunited with me. She was tired of waiting and just wanted to come to Europe by boat. I told her 'please wait two, three more months' and I hired a lawyer. I begged her to wait. But she said she had to leave now."

Meanwhile, on the beach at Steccato di Cutro, the search for dozens of missing people continues, as hopes fade of finding any more survivors.


Subscribe to Storyboard: A weekly newsletter bringing you the best of CGTN every Friday

Search Trends