Italy finds 5 more bodies from Feb. 26 shipwreck, taking death toll to 86

FILE PHOTO: A piece of the boat and a piece of clothing from the deadly migrant shipwreck are seen in Steccato di Cutro near Crotone, Italy, February 28, 2023. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Italian authorities have found the bodies of five more victims of a shipwreck last month off the coast of Calabria, bringing to 86 the death toll from one of the worst migration disasters in recent European history.

The tragedy, followed by another shipwreck on Sunday in which 30 people are missing and feared dead, has exposed Italy's right-wing government to accusations that it did not do enough to save the migrants.

A boy aged around seven or eight, a three-year-old girl, two men and a woman were the latest confirmed victims of the night-time shipwreck near the seaside town of Steccato di Cutro, a provincial government official said on Wednesday.

They were on the wooden boat that had set off from Izmir, Turkey, and crashed near the shore of Calabria in Italy's southern toe with about 180 people aboard on Feb.26, according to an account to parliament by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

The minister said 80 people survived, meaning that about 15 remain unaccounted for. More than two weeks after the tragedy, Italy's coast guard, firefighters and border police are still searching for them.

Police boats tried to intercept the boat before it sank, but failed to reach it due to rough weather. Charities and opposition politicians have asked why coast guard vessels, better equipped to face high seas, were not deployed instead.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, due to face parliamentary questions on the shipwrecks later on Wednesday, said on March 13 that "the government, myself, have been accused of atrocious things but my conscience is clear".

(Reporting by Alvise Armellini, editing by Gavin Jones and Angus MacSwan)

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