ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A boat carrying more than 50 Kurdish migrants sank off the Italian coast on Thursday. All but one have been confirmed rescued, an official confirmed.
"Before reaching the coast of Crotone in Italy, a boat carrying 51 Kurds capsized," Ari Jalal, head of the Kurdistan branch of the Iraqi Migrants Federation told Rudaw.
The fate of one of the migrants is unclear, he added.
The boat left Greece at 4 o’clock in the morning, but capsized near the small town of Torre Melissa.
"The migrants had screamed out when fell into the water,” said Jalal. “Coast guards from Torre Melissa area reached them, rescuing 50 of them."
The cries of the migrants in the boat woke people in Torre Melissa, alerting them to the situation, Italian media reported.
Among the group were six women and one infant. It is not immediately clear where the Kurds had come from.
The migrants were transferred to a reception centre in Crotone, southern Italy.
Two alleged people smugglers were arrested, according to Italian media reports.
This is the first group of migrants to reach Italy in 2019, according to the country’s Interior Ministry. Some 23,270 migrants arrived in Italy last year, most crossing from Libya.
Thousands from the Kurdistan Region have travelled to Europe, both legally and illegally. Many have lost their lives in the sea between Turkey and Greece. Kurds from Turkey, Iran, and Syria have also sought refugee status abroad.