Dozens missing after migrant boat sinks off Italian coast

At least 30 migrants are missing following two shipwrecks off the Italian island of Lampedusa.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Sunday said survivors had reported that around 28 people were lost at sea on one boat, while three were said to be missing from the second, following stormy weather on Saturday.

Both flimsy iron boats are believed to have set off from Sfax in Tunisia on Thursday.

An investigation into the shipwrecks has been opened in Agrigento in Sicily.

On Sunday rescue teams were also preparing to pull about 20 migrants to safety after they were trapped on a rocky part of Lampedusa’s coastline.

The migrants had been there since late Friday, after their boat was tossed onto the rocks by strong winds.

The number of bodies recovered has increased, in particular on the so-called Tunisian route, which has become increasingly dangerous partly due to the type of boats used.

Sub-Saharan migrants are being put out to sea by traffickers in iron boats which cost less than wooden ones but are often regarded as unseaworthy and break up.

Migrants also often have the engines stolen from their boats at sea, so traffickers can re-use them.

The Central Mediterranean crossing from North Africa to Europe is the world’s deadliest.

Over 1,800 people have died attempting it so far this year, according to officials, almost 900 more than last year.

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