ROME, Aug 1 – Italian coast guards found 25 dead bodies in the hold of a refugee boat with 271 people crammed on board that arrived on the southern island of Lampedusa on Monday, local port authorities said.
It was not immediately clear how the refugees – all young men – had died but it may have been from asphyxiation due to crowded conditions.
The corpses were found while the refugees were being moved from their boat onto a coast guard vessel. They are now in a morgue on the island.
The 271 refugees found alive included 36 women and 21 children. Coast guard officials had earlier said that the number of refugees was 268.
Thousands of refugees fleeing Libya, most of them migrant workers from other parts of Africa, have arrived on tiny Lampedusa in recent weeks.
Hundreds have drowned in a series of accidents usually in stormy seas. The vessels used for crossings from Libya are often rickety fishing boats.
The journey from North Africa takes around two days.