Shipwreck in Italy: KR70M6 was called Akef and was five years old

In the end, even Giorgia Meloni distanced herself from her interior minister, whose comment on the catastrophe on the beach in Calabria was perceived as cynical.

Shipwreck in Italy: KR70M6 was called Akef and was five years old

In the end, even Giorgia Meloni distanced herself from her interior minister, whose comment on the catastrophe on the beach in Calabria was perceived as cynical. The many dead have stirred up Italy. Now there is a bad suspicion in the room.

The shipwreck on the beach of Cutro has shaken Italy deeply. At first it seemed "just" one of the many accidents involving migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. But it has long since become a national tragedy. Almost every day more victims are washed up on the beach, up to Monday 71 had been counted. 81 people survived, 30 to 50 other people are still missing.

The question rattling the country is quite simple: Has everything really been done to save the perhaps more than 200 people on board the "Summer Love"?

The unidentified dead washed up on the beach in the Calabrian municipality in southern Italy are all given an alphanumeric code. For example, the abbreviation KR70M6 hides a boy (M), who is presumably 6 years old. The 70 in the middle says he is the 70th victim found, KR is for the province of Crotone.

The child KR70M6 could now be identified: His uncle Youssef and his aunt Leyla came from Germany and identified their nephew from the photos and from a shoe that the boy was still wearing. KR70M6 is called Akef, he was 5 years old and died when the "Summer Love", as the Turkish ship was called, sank. Akef's body washed up on the beach one kilometer from the scene of the accident. With Akef died his father, Zaboullah Tanoori, his mother, Mina, and his brothers, Hassif and Afir, aged four and two.

The ship was full of children. A 12-year-old from Afghanistan lost nine family members who were on board with him: his parents, four siblings and three other family members. So far 16 children have been found.

Most of the victims came from Afghanistan. Like the photographer Torpekai Amarkhel, who also worked for the UN in Afghanistan and had to flee after the Taliban seized power. Her sister had traveled from the Netherlands to receive her in Calabria. "I came to Crotone to pick them up with toys for the little ones, but now they're all dead."

After the accident, Italian Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi tried to blame the parents for the dead: "The desperation doesn't justify putting your children in danger on a trip like this," he said. But this line lasted only a few hours in the Italian public. The images of despair on the beach, of children's shoes on the sand, of toys, of white coffins laid out with the low numbers at the end of the ID codes - all of this spoke a different language. The mood in Italy turned 180 degrees.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni immediately promised a tougher fight against the human traffickers, but she was told that if she wanted to do something against the gangs of people smugglers, she should knock on the door of Erdogan, from whose port the ship probably left unobserved.

More and more details from the night of February 26 have become known since then. They cast a gloomy light on the situation of sea rescue in Italy.

A day before the accident, a Frontex plane, the European border security agency, spotted the ship 40 nautical miles off the coast of Calabria. It was known to have left Izmir, Turkey, four days earlier. Thermal imaging cameras showed a large number of people on board, Frontex reported to the Italian authorities.

Crotone prosecutor Giuseppe Capoccia has launched a criminal investigation. A group of high-ranking lawyers, including a former undersecretary in the Ministry of Justice, Luigi Li Gotti, is representing some of the survivors and is calling for clarification: "This whole story has to be clarified in every detail. It can't be that a ship is 40 miles off the coast is discovered and then no one intervenes."

It has not yet been clarified whether there was an order to leave the migrants on the "Summer Love" to their fate. But there was undoubtedly a political mood in the government that wanted to look the other way: no one felt responsible for the ship.

"Unfortunately, it has to be said at this point," commented the former Attorney General of Turin, Armando Spataro, "that it is really incomprehensible that the report from Frontex did not automatically lead to the declaration of the SAR case at the Italian sea rescue center ICC." Search and Rescue.

The behavior of the Italian sea rescue center ICC in Rome is also inexplicable for the retired admiral of the coast guard, Vittorio Alessandro. "The ship was heavily overloaded and that alone is an emergency situation that requires the coast guard to intervene," even without calls for help." It is time, according to the admiral, for the coast guard to do their actual job again and be independent of political influence decide to save lives.

Because it was not the coast guard who was ordered to leave the port at night, but the financial police. However, the gray speedboats of the militarily organized Guardia di Finanza are not at all designed for rescue operations of this size. For Coast Guard rescue vessels, a sea with force 4 waves like the night of the disaster is easy exercise. So why were the financial police sent out? She is responsible for border protection, not for rescue.

Was the sinking of the "Summer Love" perhaps accepted because it corresponds to the old political line of the Italian right, whose representatives used to call for the sinking of refugee boats? This evil suspicion hovers over the many coffins laid out in Cutro's gymnasium.

For the Meloni government, the Cutro tragedy is a test that it probably didn't expect. After all, migrants have been a popular enemy for years, which has brought good political returns to the Italian right. Matteo Salvini, head of the Lega party and former interior minister, campaigned for years primarily by rejecting the refugee boats. The incumbent government also identified the private sea rescuers as the main culprits for all of Italy's ills, even if the few remaining sea rescue ships rescue less than ten percent of migrants in distress at sea. A multiple of migrants are rescued by the Coast Guard or, like most, come directly to the shores of Italy in their own boats.

What tipped the political mood in Italy, however, were the heartbreaking images of the dead children and women, the coffins with the strange codes on them. Suddenly Meloni backtracked and demanded "full clarification", distanced herself from Interior Minister Piantedosi, who was generally perceived as "heartless" and cynical, and who blamed the victims who had fled the Taliban regime of terror.

The tragedy was also a first appearance for Elly Schlein, who had just been elected as the new head of the opposition Social Democrats (PD): She demanded that Italy be a safe haven for people fleeing civil war and absolute need, called for joint action by the EU to set up safe escape routes for people in such great need. Words with which Elly Schlein expressed what most Italians are probably feeling at this moment.