The remains of 26 Nigerian women believed to be migrants have been recovered from a Spanish warship in the Italian coast city of Salerno.
A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation on Monday said a Spanish warship, Cantabria, which docked in the city, was found to be carrying 375 rescued migrants and the dead women.
According to the report, 23 of the dead women were on a rubber boat with 64 other people.
It also quoted Italian media report that the women’s bodies were kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were between the ages of 14 and 18.
UNHCR spokesman, Marco Rotunno, said the 26 dead were involved in a shipwreck off Libya.
Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Repubblica reports.
Among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children. There were also some Libyan men and women on board.
The BBC said, “People-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya, according to the Italian aid group L’Abbraccio. Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse by the gangs.
“Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.
“There are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean. Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.”