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Italy To Investigate Death Of 26 'Nigerian Women' In Migrant Shipwreck

26 Nigerians 'sexually abused, murdered' at Mediterranean Sea

Salvatore Malfi, the prefect of the Italian port city of Salerno, was skeptical of this theory but said it's too early to come to any conclusion about whether the girls were headed for prostitution.

"They were on a dinghy that was also carrying men", he told reporters who asked whether the women were on a sex-trafficking boat.

According to CNN, Italian authorities have launched an investigation after the bodies of 26 teenage girls were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea this Sunday (November 5th).

Libya is notorious for human traffickers, and this particular port in Salerno and the route to Europe is well-known to authorities, who are struggling to keep up with the spiraling numbers of smugglers.

Twenty-three of the women died on Friday after the inflatable dinghy they were travelling on sank, and their bodies were recovered by the Spanish ship Cantabria, which was operating as part of the European Union anti-trafficking force Sophia.

Among the survivors were 52 children and 90 women, eight of whom are said to be pregnant.

According to Italy's interior ministry, more than 111,700 people have reached the country by sea in the first 10 months of 2017, 30 percent down on the previous year.

The number of migrants arriving in Italy so far this year is 30 per cent lower than last year - 111,716 through Friday compared to almost 160,000 in the same period of 2016, according to Interior Ministry figures. The International Organization for Migration said Friday that more than 2,560 migrants had been rescued over four days. The rest arrived via Greece, Spain or Cyprus.

About 1,500 Nigerian women and girls made it to Italy in 2014, said Federico Soda, director of IOM's Coordination Office for the Mediterranean.

Since the collapse of Moammar Gaddafi's regime, the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Libya has skyrocketed.

La Repubblica, an Italian medium, reports that a total of 375 migrants rescued from the sea and now in the warship are sub-Saharan Africans from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan. "But also women traveling alone with their children have been abused".