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Why Were 26 Teenage Girls Found Dead at Sea?

Rescue workers recovering a body in Salerno, Italy. Photo: CESARE ABBATE/ANSA via AP

On Sunday, rescuers discovered the bodies of 26 girls aged 14 to 18 in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Italy. Many migrants use that route to cross over from Libya into Europe and the girls — who are all from either Niger or Nigeria — were among them. However, Italian officials are investigating this case further.

Per CNN, the head of police in Salerno, Italy, Lorena Ciccotti, told them “autopsies would be carried out on Tuesday and that coroners would be investigating whether the girls had been tortured or sexually abused.”

The majority of the bodies were found drowned near an almost fully sunk rubber dinghy. NPR reports that “Salvatore Malfi, the police prefect of … Salerno, said the 26 [victims] may have been thrown off their rubber dinghy into the waters of the Mediterranean.”

There were four different operations conducted in the area during last weekend, with about 400 migrants ultimately rescued and brought to Salerno.

Why Were 26 Teenage Girls Found Dead at Sea?