BARI, Italy (Reuters) - The body of a drowned woman was recovered and as many as five other migrants were missing after people smugglers threw them into the sea off the coast of southern Italy on Monday, a coastguard official said.
Thirty-seven Somali migrants who were aboard the boat either made it to shore safely or were scooped out of the water alive by rescuers, the coastguard said.
The body of a woman in her 30s was recovered from the rocks along the coast and a search was underway for five others who went missing after the smugglers threw them into the sea, the coastguard said.
The smugglers who had accompanied the migrants in the wooden vessel from Greece then escaped on a second boat, the official said.
The 37 survivors are all Somalis and include 35 women and two males, one of them a 10-year-old boy who was among five people hospitalised for hypothermia, the coastguard said.
Last year nearly 3,800 migrants died in attempts to enter the European Union by sea. More than one million people made the sea journey successfully.
Italy and Greece are among the frontline countries in Europe’s worst migrant crisis since World War Two.
Reporting by Vincenzo Damiani in Bari, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Gareth Jones