NEWS

Fears 29 Kurds died in Italy bid

ROME (AFP) – Weary migrants who survived a nightmarish clandestine sea passage from Turkey told Italian investigators yesterday up to 29 people may have perished in the attempt to reach Italy. Five Iraqi Kurd survivors recounted jumbled details of their odyssey to Italian authorities yesterday, after being picked up by a Russian ship on Sunday in the Ionian Sea, 48 kilometers (30 miles) off Italy, from a 9-meter rubber dinghy that contained the bodies of six more illegal immigrants who had died of exposure. A sixth survivor, Greek national Panayiotis Liolios, 28, was arrested on suspicion of human trafficking. The Kurds said 35 people had set off from the Turkish coast last week in a small boat navigated by two members of a Turkish trafficking gang. But the boat soon got into difficulties and 15 people had jumped into the sea and drowned before the Turks were able to rendezvous with Greek traffickers to transfer their human cargo to a more seaworthy boat. Eight of the remaining 20 were lost as the rubber dinghy driven by two Greek traffickers began shipping water in rough seas off Greece, survivors said.