TIRANA, Albania — An inflatable speedboat packed with Albanian migrants trying to sneak into Italy sank in rough weather in the Adriatic Sea, killing 21 people, officials said Saturday.
Eleven others were rescued by the Italian coast guard after the boat sank late Friday near Vlora, about 85 miles southwest of the capital, Tirana. High winds had whipped waves to 20 feet. Two people were listed in serious condition, police spokesman Floriani Serjani said. No one was believed to be missing.
Police arrested two of the survivors, who were believed to be migrant smugglers.
Gentian Kurtmetaj, a survivor in his 20s, said the passengers in the 43-foot-long boat had paid about $2,300 each for the journey across the Adriatic, which normally takes about three hours. The average monthly salary in Albania is $200.
"We were promised jobs in Brindisi [Italy]," he told reporters. "It was very cold, and the victims froze to death."
Most of the passengers were from the northern districts of Shkodra and Malesi-e-Madhe, among Albania's poorest regions. Three women and 18 men were among the dead, said Lt. Col. Antonio Passaro, a spokesman for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Albania.