At least three migrants die after boat catches fire off Italy

Emergency services carry a body at the dock of Le Castella after a migrant boat caught fire during rescue operations off the coast of Crotone, with some people still missing according to Italian media, Italy August 30, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

At least three migrants died after a fire broke out on a boat close to the southern coast of Italy on Sunday, Reuters reports quoting police and health officials.

Five other migrants were taken to hospital after sustaining injuries.

Two police officers were also hurt as they tried to help the migrants. Other migrants are believed missing.

Local Italian media report that the fire was ignited by fuel aboard the ship, the latest incident as Italy continues its struggle to deal with hundreds of migrants reaching its shores this summer.

Many migrants attempt the precarious sea journey from North Africa to Italy in efforts to enter Europe.

Over 17,000 people have arrived in Italy and Malta this year by boat from Libya and Tunisia, a threefold increase compared to 2019. However, the number has drastically decreased compared to years prior to 2019.