Some 20 to 30 migrants who could not make it aboard a rescue boat are missing and presumed dead, survivors taken to Sicily have told Italian police, the ANSA news agency reported Monday.
The accounts came from some of the 454 people who disembarked Sunday in the Sicilian port of Pozzallo from a Norwegian vessel that takes part in EU rescue missions in the Mediterranean.
The survivors said they were first picked up by a passing cargo ship Friday. There was a scrum to get on board, and 20 to 30 people did not make it and fell into the sea.
The bodies of two migrants involved in the accident were also brought by the vessel to Pozzallo on Sunday, according to ANSA.
A 24-year-old man from Mali suspected of steering the dinghy the migrants were travelling on was arrested on charges of abetting illegal migration and in connection with the deaths, reports said.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 863 migrants have died or gone missing while trying to land on Italian shores so far this year.