Over the weekend, 26 teenage girls – aged 14-18 – were found dead in the Mediterranean Sea. Italian authorities are in the process of investigating the tragedy, CNN reports.
The girls were reportedly migrants from Nigeria and Niger and were on their way from Africa to Europe via Libya. The route has a life-threatening history, which despite its dangers tends to enlist a slew of immigrants all in search of a better life.
Libya is a well-known port in the region where many from the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia use in efforts to relocate. Yet the North African country is known for human trafficking—considering how it lacks a central government system.
Reportedly, Lorena Ciccotti, Salerno’s police chief, told CNN that autopsies will be performed on Tuesday (Nov. 8) to determine if the young women were subjected to torture or sexual abuse.
Alongside the teens, there were also 90 women, 52 minors, and a week-old baby, authorities said. Two men, one from Egypt, and the other from Libya were arrested by Italian police officials for human trafficking. Allegedly, they were not connected to the boat that housed the deceased girls.
Since the beginning of this year, 2,839 migrants have died while on the central Mediterranean route, the International Organization for Migration reports. It’s estimated that around 152,982 migrants have made it to Europe, while 74 percent are marked as Italian arrivals.
Further details for this story are still pending.