Italian authorities have vowed to look into the cause of death of the 26 teenage girls whose bodies were recovered on Sunday.
The girls, appeared to be aged between 14-18 years, and were believed to have been immigrants from either Niger or Nigeria. The girls were part of a larger group, which embarked on the dangerous journey to Europe from Libya over the weekend.
Officials are concerned that the girls may have been part of a flesh trade. The head of Salerno’s police department, Lorena Ciccotti, released a statement saying the autopsies were scheduled for Tuesday. The autopsies are likely to confirm if the girls were tortured or sexually abused.
The bodies were found in the water near an unstable rubber dinghy that was on the verge of sinking when rescuers arrived at the scene. First call responders stated that the survivors were hanging from the remains of the sinking vessels while the corpses floated nearby.
The rescue was part of four individual rescue operations carried out in the Mediterranean over the past weekend. All in all, 400 people were taken aboard a Spanish vessel called Cantabria. The refugees were set down in the Italian port town of Salerno.
The refugees included 90 women, and 52 minors. The group included a week-old baby, which authorities stated was in poor condition.
The chances that the group originated in Libya seem very high. The country is well known as a jumping point for any refugee seeking to make its way to Europe.
A large number of refugees are in the process of fleeing from the African continent. The numbers have increased as war and persecution runs rampant in nations in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia.
Many prefer the risk of the journey to the certain death awaiting them in their own lands.