Survivors of a disaster off the coast of southern Italy mourned Wednesday as relatives of some of the 67 people who died arrived from neighboring countries to claim their loved ones.
The body of a five-year-old boy was retrieved on Wednesday morning, according to local officials, while emergency workers continue to search for the deceased.
Crying women were brought among rows of coffins laid out in a sports hall in Crotone, Italy’s southern seaside resort, some kneeling to pray quietly while others howled in despair.
During a collective prayer, men and women held and stroked the flower-adorned coffins, with one guy sobbing as he touched a stuffed Tigger toy, and others fainting and being taken out by Red Cross workers.
Outside, family from Germany and Austria reported final words exchanged with loved ones who had embarked on the overcrowded boat from Turkey last week.
Afghan Mohammed Djafari, who lives in Germany, told AFP that his 40-year-old cousin called him about 4 a.m. on Sunday.
“Please Mohamed, come help me, I have no idea what to do,” she called again, he begged.
The boat broke up just off the coast in rough weather, presumably after hitting a sandbank.
Djafari’s cousin and her 10-year-old son survived and are now in the same hospital.
He stated that her 17-year-old daughter died, while her seven-year-old daughter is still missing.
“I drove 22 hours by car. In the hope that the children were still alive,” Djafari said.
Fourteen children were among those confirmed dead when the overcrowded boat shattered, according to the interior ministry on Tuesday.
Roughly 80 people survived, with numerous others still missing.
That was one of the most devastating instances in the central Mediterranean, through which tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers cross each year in search of a better life in Europe.