TIME europe

Dozens of Migrants Reportedly Drown Near Italy

Italy Europe Migrants
Adriana Sapone—AP Rescued migrants sit in a bus after disembarking from the Swedish Coast Guard ship KBV 001 Poseidon at the Reggio Calabria harbor, Italy on July 23, 2015.

The dead were believed to be mostly sub-Saharan Africans, including at least 7 children

(ROME) — As many as 40 would-be refugees, including at least seven children, have died while trying to reach Italy from Libya in the latest Mediterranean migrant tragedy, Save the Children reported Thursday.

The aid group said some of the 80 survivors of the crossing who were brought ashore Thursday in Augusta, Sicily, reported the deaths that occurred the previous day when the dinghy they were travelling on took in water.

Eventually, a cargo vessel spotted them and alerted search and rescue authorities and the German navy, taking part in the EU’s Mediterranean rescue mission, came to their aid and brought them to shore.

The dead were believed to be mostly sub-Saharan Africans from Senegal, Mali and Benin and included at least seven children, the group reported in a statement.

So far this year, more than 80,000 migrants have come ashore in Italy, with a similar number arriving in Greece.

In the deadliest crossing, some 800 migrants were believed to have drowned in April when their boat capsized off Libya with hundreds of people trapped in the hold by smugglers; a few days before that tragedy another 400 people drowned.

TIME Italy

ISIS-Inspired Suspects Wanted to Attack Italian Base With U.S. Military Presence

Police operation against terrorism
EPA A handout photograph released by Italian police shows a note (Islamic State in Rome- We are on your streets) by two ISIS-inspired suspects arrested by Italian police in Brescia, on July 22, 2015.

The two men were making plans to travel to ISIS territory for military training

(MILAN)—Italian prosecutors say two suspects arrested Wednesday who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group had among their targets an Italian military base near the northern city of Brescia that has a U.S. military presence.

Prosecutor Maurizio Romanelli told a press conference the two suspects did not have the capabilities to carry out an attack against the Ghedi air base or any other of the targets they had identified with a Twitter account, including Milan’s Duomo or Rome’s Colosseum.

Officials said the two men, a Tunisian and a Pakistani, were making plans to travel to Islamic State territory for military training while at the same time gathering information from the Internet on how to participate in a holy war.

“The Pakistani and Tunisian did not just show complete adherence to the Islamic State with plans to travel to Syrian territory to participate in military training with the mujahedeen, but at the same time they spoke with each other about possible terror attacks within Italy,” Romanelli said.

Investigators said the pair had not yet procured any weapons but had obtained from the Internet a manual “How to Survive in the West,” a 2015 guide for mujahedeen that includes a chapter on primitive weapons and bomb making, how to escape after carrying out an attack and how to avoid detection as an extremist.

Prosecutors said the two also were planning an attack against a food packaging company where one of the men worked.

The suspects were arrested in Brescia on suspicion of terror association and subversion and searches were being carried out throughout the Lombardy region. Both were long-time residents in Italy with families.

TIME portfolio

Meet Italy’s Ghost Hunters

“Maybe we want to believe that after death, there is something more.”

Not far from Milan, in the bedroom of a haunted house, the ghost hunters were holding a séance. “If there’s someone here,” they called into the darkness, “can you please give us a sign?”

Photographer Barbara Leolini had gone alone into the kitchen to load a new spool of film into her camera, when suddenly, unmistakably, a chair scraped along the floor near her. Everyone heard it.

“I was freaking out,” she tells TIME. “I slept with the lights on for two weeks. We were all there. You just have to believe it.”

It was her very first ghost-hunting trip. Even if she’d been skeptical at first, Leolini now insists on the existence of the paranormal. And she is far from alone—according to a study by Italian magazine Focus, 76% of Italians believe in ghosts, and half of them claim to have seen spirits of the deceased with their own eyes.

The high figure, she presumes, comes from a culture of superstition and Catholic influence. “People believe in the weirdest stuff,” she says. “Maybe we want to believe that after death, there is something more.”

Ghost-hunting, like bird-watching, is motivated by the desire to experience and prove the existence of the supernatural, rather than capture or scare it away. Across Italy, groups like the Ghost Hunter Team (GHT) visit cemeteries, abandoned warehouses and old buildings to collect evidence.

It’s more than just a hobby. Leolini was impressed by the intense passion of those she followed, some of whom had been hunting for as a long as a decade. She noted that ghost hunting demands courage, patience and dedication. “You also need a sense of humor,” she says, “because otherwise it’s just too heavy. I was really scared at certain points.”

Enthusiasts conduct thorough research before venturing to far-flung sites in the middle of the night. They also invest large sums of money on equipment designed to detect potential hoaxing devices, read changes in air flow or energy fields, and even record electronic voice phenomena. According to a member of the GHT, a complete basic kit costs about 4,000 euros—more, of course, if you want the very best.

Determined to visualize the invisible, Leolini interviewed and took portraits of more than a dozen people with their own ghost stories to tell. One of her subjects, whom she was meeting for the first time, greeted her by saying, “Your grandfather, Simone, says hi.” Leolini’s grandfather had been dead for 15 years, and she could not fathom how her subject, a self-professed medium, could have known his name unless she’d communicated with him in the afterlife.

Leolini also photographed notoriously haunted locations around northern Italy, each with an unsettling history. Her project, Echoes, is a combination of portraits, eerie landscapes, abstract mood images and investigation photos provided by the GHT. All of her own photographs were taken on an old Olympus point-and-shoot camera that cost five euros at a flea market, using special effects film handmade by Revolog.

“I was looking for a moody, magical film that could help me find the right feeling for the story,” says Leolini. “And when you shoot this kind of film on a point-and-shoot, you don’t have any control at all beyond pressing a button.”

The result is a series of images bathed in a dreamy palette, with mysterious details that invite viewers to question how they may have occurred.

Echoes, which Leolini completed as her diploma project for the Danish School of Media and Journalism, is just the first chapter of a wider project on paranormal beings. Her next work will focus on witchcraft.

Perhaps there is no concrete proof that the invisible world exists, but for Leolini, there’s also no concrete proof that it doesn’t. “Facts are the sole criteria of reality,” she says. “In the absence of facts, the wise man suspends his judgment.”

Barbara Leolini is a photographer based in Florence, Italy.

Jen Tse is a photo editor and contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter @jentse and Instagram.

TIME portfolio

See the Tools Used by Ghost Hunters

A complete kit can cost $5,000

Ghost hunting enthusiasts invest large sums of money on equipment designed to detect potential hoaxing devices, read changes in air flow or energy fields, and even record electronic voice phenomena. A complete basic kit costs about $5,000 —more, of course, if you want the very best. Photographer Barbara Leolini has met Italy’s ghost hunters.

TIME Greece

This Greek Island Is Being Overwhelmed by Thousands of Migrants

The massive influx is exhausting resources on the island of Lesbos

The Greek island of Lesbos is facing the worst migration crisis in all of Europe, a Medecins Sans Frontieres official told the BBC.

Around 15,000 migrants arrived on the island in June. Lesbos has a total population of just 86,000, and the BBC says the massive influx has exhausted most available resources and left officials scrambling.

The migrants often arrive on the northern tip of the island close to Turkey, and then walk over 25 miles to the other side of the island to apply for papers that let them stay in the country for up to six months.

The island’s chief of police told the BBC that 1,600 migrants arrived on Saturday alone. Police said they were working 24 hours a day to process the new migrants, but still only manage to get through between 300 to 500 a day.

An abandoned race track and the island’s only detention facility house the migrants, but have been stretched to more than full capacity, the BBC reports.

Over 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece this year already, according to the BBC.

The total number of migrants arriving in Europe in 2015 has more than doubled since 2014.

[BBC]

TIME Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo Just Unveiled This New Flagship Sedan to Boost U.S. Sales

Italy Alfa Romeo
Antonio Calanni—AP The new Alfa Romeo Giulia sedan is shown during the official presentation, in Arese, near Milan, Italy.

It's seriously sweet

Alfa Romeo, the Italian luxury automaker owned by Fiat Chrysler, today unveiled the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, a luxury sedan the company hopes will boost the brand’s popularity in the United States.

The revamp of Alfa Romeo is at the center of the carmaker’s plan to boost global vehicle sales by 60% to 7 million vehicles by 2018. The company had forecast Alfa Romeo’s sales would multiply more than fivefold to 400,000 vehicles in 2018 thanks to a 5 billion-euro investment to add eight new models and ramp up production.

Last year, the carmaker’s total sales were just 68,000, according to the Associated Press.

CEO Sergio Marchionne said that Fiat’s merger with Chrysler has given the company the financial tools needed to reestablish Alfa Romeo as a player in the U.S. market. The brand had its first appearance in the U.S. last year after a two-decade absence.

The new car is made of lightweight materials, and the top-end version of it will go from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds, according to the car news site Jalopnik.

—Reuters contributed to this report.

TIME World

This Is How You Can Own an Italian Vacation Home for Free

ITALY-SICILY-GANGI
Tiziana Fabi—AFP/Getty Images A man walks in the center of the village of Gangi, 120 kms from Palermo, on August 14, 2014

But there's a catch (naturally)

In a move straight out of your European daydreams, the Sicilian mountain village of Gangi is giving away for free or at a steep discount many of the houses that line its ancient stone streets.

But there’s a catch, the New York Times reports. Anyone who takes the 13th century village up on its offer of a house has only a few years to restore it, and the buildings are often long abandoned and in advanced states of decay, requiring extremely costly renovations in order to become habitable.

Starting in the 1890s, Gangi experienced mass emigration, with much of its population leaving for the U.S. or Argentina. In the 1950s, the village had 16,000 residents, the town’s Mayor Giuseppe Ferrarello told the Times. Today the population is less than half that.

The result was a glut of empty homes, many of them traditional structures that hosted farm animals on the bottom floors and the family on the top. Their history and charm has lured interest from as close as Palermo and as far as Abu Dhabi.

There’s now a lengthy waiting list, allowing the village to choose applicants that will add something to the town. One Florence-based company, for example, acquired two free houses, and bought seven more. It plans on joining them together to make a hotel with historical character.

It’s all for the love of the town and its future. “We want our children to stay here and not leave,” Ferrarello said.

[NYT]

TIME Soccer

An Argentinian Media Executive Named in the FIFA Scandal Has Turned Himself In

Argentine linked to FIFA scandal turns himself into Italian police
INTERPOL/HANDOUT—EPA An undated mugshot released on 09 June 2015 by Interpol shows Alejandro Burzaco.

Alejandro Burzaco says he will provide information on the corruption scandal engulfing soccer's apex body

One of the South American businessmen implicated in the ongoing corruption scandal at world soccer’s governing body FIFA surrendered to police in Italy on Tuesday, two weeks after the U.S. issued a warrant for his arrest.

Alejandro Burzaco surrendered to authorities in the northern Italian city of Bolzano, the Wall Street Journal reported. He is the former chairman and chief executive of Argentina’s Torneos SA, a media company that won the rights to broadcast several tournaments including last year’s World Cup in Brazil and this year’s Copa America, which begins in Chile on Thursday.

The company fired Burzaco last week, soon after he was charged with racketeering, fraud and money laundering in an indictment by U.S. federal authorities and named in a “red notice” by Interpol. The 50-year-old was accompanied by three lawyers when he surrendered, and said he is willing to be extradited to the U.S. to provide information on the FIFA scandal.

“Alejandro Burzaco surrendered today so he could expedite his arrival in the U.S. to address the charges head on,” Sean Casey, a lawyer at Kobre & Kim in New York, also representing Burzaco, told the Journal in an emailed statement.

U.S. prosecutors are also seeking two other Argentine executives and a Brazilian executive in connection with the massive corruption scandal, which has implicated several top officials at one of world sport’s richest organizations and resulted in the resignation of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter earlier this month.

[WSJ]

TIME Italy

Somber Images of the Migrant Crisis in the Mediterranean Sea

Warmer weather means more crossings on the Mediterranean

Thousands of migrants and refugees were rescued from smugglers’ vessels in the Mediterranean over the weekend, pushing the total number of arrivals in Europe this year to more than 101,000 as political leaders struggle with dividing the burden.

An estimated 101,900 migrants have made it to Europe since Jan. 1, the International Organization for Migration said Monday, including some 7,000 people who were rescued between June 6-8 in a maritime operation involving Britain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden. Italy and Greece have taken in the most, at more than 52,000 and more than 46,000, respectively.

The latest rescues illustrate the impact of warmer weather on the crossings, which received heavy attention earlier this year after the death toll from a number of shipwrecks between Italy and Libya—now a funnel into Europe for those fleeing conflict, poverty and persecution—quickly reached more than 1,800, well above the 425 recorded for the whole of 2014.

Broader search-and-rescue operations have been credited with the rising number of rescues, versus more deaths, as European Union member nations decide how is best to relieve the pressure of the influx.

Italian photographer Giulio Piscitelli has been documenting the crisis in the Mediterranean.

Read next: The Tiny Greek Island at the Center of the Refugee Crisis

TIME Italy

Thousands More Migrants Have Been Rescued From the Mediterranean During the Last Two Days

Italy Migrants
Sascha Jonack— Bundeswehr/AP Soldiers of the German Navy ship Hessen rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea on June 6, 2015

More than 1,800 migrants have died or gone missing attempting to cross the Mediterranean this year alone

A new wave of boats is attempting to cross from Libya to Italy, the International Organization for Migration warned Sunday, citing balmy weather and tranquil seas as the reasons behind the surge of migrants risking their lives in the Mediterranean.

Nearly 3,500 migrants were rescued on Saturday alone, with 1,000 more (including at least 10 pregnant women) on board relief vessels by mid-afternoon Sunday, CNN reports.

A team of ships from several European nations cooperated on a rescue effort, including the British, Irish, Spanish, and German navies and the Italian coast guard, which alone received 14 distress calls Sunday, many from wooden fishing boats and rubber dinghies. One of the biggest rescued vessels held 563 migrants.

Rescue ships planned to bring the migrants to various ports in Italy, including Palermo and Trapani in Sicily, Taranto in Italy, and the island of Lampedusa, a spokesman for Germany’s Bundeswehr Joint Forces Operation Command told CNN.

As of the end of May, the United Nations estimated that 90,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean to Europe so far in 2015; of those, more than 1800 have died or are missing at sea.

[CNN]

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