Taliban: 80 Afghan citizens dead in Italian shipwreck

A boat of the Italian Coat Guards patrols off the beach on Feb 26, 2023 in Steccato di Cutro, south of Crotone, where debris of a shipwreck were washed ashore after a migrants' boat sank in heavy seas near Steccato di Cutro. (PHOTO / AFP)

KABUL – Afghanistan's Taliban-led foreign ministry said on Tuesday that 80 Afghan citizens, including children, had died in Sunday's shipwreck off the southern coast of Italy.

Rescuers have so far confirmed at least 64 people were killed after a sailboat sank in heavy seas near Steccato di Cutro, a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Calabria. Eighty people had been rescued and more people were believed to be missing.

"With great sadness, we learned … that 80 Afghan refugees, including women and children, who were traveling from Türkiye to Italy in a wooden boat, drowned and died in the southern sea of Italy," the Afghan foreign affairs ministry said in a statement.

"The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan prays for forgiveness for the martyrs and patience for the families and relatives of the victims, urging all citizens once again to avoid going to foreign countries through irregular migration," the statement added, referring to the Taliban's name for their government.

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The boat had set sail from the port of Izmir in western Türkiye. The UN refugee agency has said almost half of arrivals by sea between Türkiye and Italy last year were Afghans.