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Migrant farm workers killed in Italy road collision

By Sheetal Sukhija, The Italy News
08 Aug 2018, 20:01 GMT+10

ROME, Italy - In a horrific road collision that took place on a state highway in southern Italy, a van crashed into a lorry near Lesina, leaving 12 people dead.

Emergency officials said after arriving at the accident spot in Foggia that 12 African farm laborers were killed after the van they were traveling in, crashed head-on into a lorry carrying flour.

A report in Italian news agency ANSA stated that the incident occurred when the migrant laborers were returning home after working in the fields all day. 

According to the local police, all 12 people inside the white minivan were killed when the vehicle banged into the lorry and then flipped on its roof.

The police added that three people, including the truck driver had suffered injuries in the collision. 

Emergency services later confirmed that all the victims were from North Africa.  

Further, officials said that the deadly collision took place merely two days after four migrant farm workers were killed in a similar crash, that incidentally took place in the same area on Saturday.

After Saturday’s crash, a Union of farm labourers announced in a statement that would be hold a ‘red hat’ march to Foggia on Wednesday.

The Union said that members would wear red hats - to symbolize the hats worn by tomato pickers in the fields around Foggia - and would march in solidarity with the four people that died tragically on Saturday. 

Meanwhile, after two tragic accidents being reported in the same area in less than four days, the agricultural trade union, Fai Cisl issued a statement saying it was now investigating whether these were avoidable tragedies.

The Union said after the first incident, "We want to know if someone is responsible, if the deaths were an avoidable tragedy. And if the transport was regulated, or if the workers were crammed into the van as still happens, unfortunately, very often.”

Even though conditions in Italy are very precarious for African migrants, the country witnesses a huge influx of seasonal migrant workers each year.

A majority of migrants find work in the country’s agriculture industry, and are hired to harvest fruits and vegetables.

These migrant workers are usually hired by gangs in Italy, but are said to receive very meagre pay.

Officials revealed that migrant workers get paid as low as one euro for picking 100kgs of tomatoes. 

The two accidents have come at a time when the country’s populist government is trying to stop people-smuggling gangs sending more boatloads from Libya. 

According to the UN refugee agency, the boats are usually perilously overcrowded leading to tragic accidents.

So far this year, the agency has said that more than 1,500 people have drowned crossing the Mediterranean. 

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