The Italian Navy has disclosed that nineteen people died in an effort to reach Italy on a boat carrying hundreds of migrants en route to the Italian island of Lampedusa, Reuters reports.
The bodies were found in the hold of the boat, leading the Italian Navy to believe that the cause of death is carbon monoxide emissions from the engine.
A similar incident recently claimed 30 migrant lives.
Along with the eighteen bodies, the officials found three seriously ill men who were rushed to the island of Lampedusa, but for one of the men the help came too late, he died en route.
The other two men were airlifted to Palermo, Sicily.
The latest incidents have shone a spotlight on the problem of North African migrants departing for Italy predominantly from Libya in search of better fortunes.
Italy has been struggling to keep up with the influx of migrants, and has repeatedly asked for help from other EU countries.
The UNHCR has estimated that over 500 migrants have died in 2014 trying to reach Italy. Last year the number of casualties reached 700, and if this year’s trend resumes, that figure is surely going to be surpassed.
Italy’s mission ‘Mare Nostrum’ has rescued over 70,000 migrants in 2014, exceeding the 2011 record of over 60,000 migrants instigated by the Arab Spring.
World Maritime News Staff, July 20th, 2014; Image: Marina Difesa