Two weeks after a boat packed with migrants sank off the coast of southern Italy, there is still no peace for the living or the dead, and the missing – mostly children – continue to wash up on the beaches.
The latest – a girl aged five or six – was discovered on Saturday morning, bringing the toll from when the ill-fated boat broke apart on the rocks on February 26 off the village of Cutro to 74. Nearly half were minors.
The local coroner’s office provided names for many of the dead including Torpekai Amarkhel, a 42-year-old female journalist from Afghanistan, who was killed along with her husband and two of their three children.
Her other child, a seven-year-old daughter, is among the approximately 30 people still missing, presumed dead, from the tragedy.
Amarkhel had fled Afghanistan with her family following the clampdown on women, her sister Mida, who had emigrated to Rotterdam, told Unama News radio, a United Nations project Amarkhel was involved in.
Shahida Raza, who played football and hockey for Pakistan’s national team, was also among the dead. A friend said she was traveling in the hope of securing a better future for her disabled son.
Initially, those found were given alphanumeric code numbers, rather than names. When first responders found the corpse of 28-year-old Abiden Jafari from Afghanistan, they identified her only as KR16D45 – KR for the nearby city of Crotone, 16 because she was the 16th victim found, D for donna or woman, and 45, her estimated age.
But after taking her to the morgue, they discovered she was a women’s rights activist who had been threatened by the Taliban, likely causing her to risk her life at sea.
The body of a six-year-old boy, first identified as KR70M6, was named by his uncle as Hakef Taimoori.
The uncle had a family photo showing the young boy wearing the same shoes as he had on when he washed up on the beach. His parents and two-year-old brother also died in the disaster. A third brother remains among the missing.
No return home for the dead
The dead have also been caught in a struggle between the Italian state and family members.
The Interior Ministry ordered that all bodies be transferred from Calabria where the caskets have been on display in an auditorium, to the Islamic cemetery of Bologna for burial, in keeping with Italy’s protocol for irregular migrants who die attempting to enter Italy.
Family members who either survived the wreck or came from other parts of Europe to claim their loved ones’ remains protested with makeshift signs and a sit-in in front of the auditorium on Wednesday.
After a tense negotiation, the Prefecture of Crotone confirmed to CNN that 25 families, mostly Afghan and Syrian, agreed to have their loved ones buried in Bologna,.
All those who have not been identified will also be buried in Bologna along with the remains of a Turkish n