59 people, including a newborn baby and other children, have died after a wooden sailboat believed to be carrying refugees crashed into rocks off the coast of the Italian region of Calabria.

According to survivors, there were about 140 to 150 people on board the boat. 81 people survived, of which 20 were taken to hospital.

“It was a tragedy, this morning, to see these scenes of children being returned from the sea, bodies, upsetting scenes,” said Antonio Ceraso, mayor of Cutro.

Father Rosario Morrone, parish priest of Botricello, visited the scene: “They have found two bodies also on the beach in my parish. I have blessed them but while I was blessing them I asked myself why we always come after death? We should come before death. “

The ship is believed to have left Turkey four days ago with people from Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan on board.

A Turkish citizen has been detained on suspicion of human trafficking, according to the news agency Ansa.

In a statement, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni reiterated her government’s commitment to “prevent departures and with them the tragedies that unfold”.

Just a few days ago, the Italian parliament passed a controversial law. It forces rescue ships to perform only one rescue operation per mission.

According to NGOs, this significantly increases the risk of death in the Mediterranean.