Mediterranean tragedy: How 26 Nigerian women died – Autopsy

Migrants at sea
Migrant boat used to illustrate the story [Photo credit: CBC]

Following investigations by Italian prosecutors to discover what led to the death of 26 Nigerian women found on a Spanish warship in early November, post-mortem examinations on the bodies confirmed ”they almost all drowned at sea,” Italian news agencies reported Wednesday.

According to the autopsy carried out in Salerno in southern Italy, 25 of the females died of asphyxiation in the water, when the inflatable dinghy they were travelling on sank.

Reports further revealed that one female suffered a wound to her liver, two of the dead were pregnant and the autopsies found no recent trace of physical or sexual violence.

The bodies of the victims were found on Spanish military ship and brought to Italy on November 3 after two separate rescue operations. In both cases, dozens of other migrants, mostly men, were also rescued after they tried to cross to Europe from Libya.

Family members, who survived the disaster, have identified some of the victims and investigators managed to contact relatives of others after discovering phone numbers inside the victims’ clothing.

Funerals for the 26 will take place on Friday in Salerno, where a day of mourning has been declared.

A white rose will be placed on each coffin, while smaller roses will be placed for the two unborn children.

According to Italy’s interior ministry, more than 111,700 people have reached the country by sea in the first 10 months of 2017, a decrease of 30 per cent from the same period last year. The UN has said 80 per cent of young Nigerian women arriving in Italy are already in the clutches of prostitution networks, or quickly fall under their control.

The Nigerian Foreign Ministry had described the loss of the females, believed to be teenagers as “a monumental loss and a sad moment for our country” and called for an international investigation into the incident.


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  • Charles

    A day of mourning has been declared in Salerno, how many day of mourning has been declared in Nigeria where the victims held.

    • Rommel

      Only their families should mourn them, I would have been angry if a minute silence was observed for the miserable souls of these misguided young girls whose aim was to go and hook on the streets of Europe, shame to all of them, I have no sympathy for any of them, they got what they deserved.

      • emmanuel

        It should be so, because you value one cow to a human and slaughter people at will. The life of every man is precious in that clime, unlike in your demonic domain. Where thousands of people were killed just to have a man without brain as president.
        By the way, how did you find your voice again, with over twenty two thousand teachers unable to pass primary four examination?
        It would be worse if same examination is conducted in Federal Civil Service and Customs – your two marks qualification tribes men would all fail. Including Buhari who would not even have upto three over one hundred.

      • oyelekan solomon solomon adelo

        Shame shame shame on you.

      • You should be ashamed of yourself. Are you really without fault? May God have mercy on your soul.

        • Rommel

          I am proud of myself and happy with the position I have taken on this issue

      • FreeNigeria

        wow, I’m not surprised at your comment cos you’re a Nigerian, a country with total disregard for human lives and welfare.

        • Rommel

          I value human rights but what rights should I give to someone who delibrately leaves Nigeria for war torn Libya,a country with no functional government,hoping to swim to Europe,is Nigeria the worst country on earth? why do these people keep humiliating Nigeria? I wish more would die so that we see if some sense can come into them

          • FreeNigeria

            ICYMI, yes, Nigeria is the worst country on earth. Do you think people will trek Sahara Desert, swim Mediterranean because their stomach is full? Do you think a woman goes into prostitution because her opportunities are endless? man, you wish others death, beware of what you wish upon yourself. Life is full of pitfalls, you don’t know what hands you’ll be dealt tomorrow.

      • grand maze

        Your comment is callous. The lack of social security is also contributory to these influx to Europe. It is not just about the girls and prostitution but men are also fleeing the country in search of better life whether illusory or real. Some of them come back successful and become diaspora citizens bringing much needed forex into the economy. The real culprits here is the Nigerian ruling class who have so impoverished their citizens to the extent of seeking sustenance in foreign countries to risk of losing their lives. For me, they deserve more than a minute silence. May God have mercy on their souls