An Egyptian teenager was revealed to have aided and saved 51 schoolchildren in Milan when a bus driver hijacked the vehicle and set it on fire.
Quick-thinking Ramy Shehatah, a 13 year old, hid his phone when the driver had taken the other students’ phones and managed to make a call asking for assistance while feigning to pray in Arabic while he contacted his father who then contacted police authorities.
The driver, 47-year-old Ousseynou Sy, an Italian of Senegalese origin, had hijacked the vehicle, removed the hammers to break glass and doused the bus in petrol as his plan was to set the school bus on fire.
The incident occurred on Wednesday; Shehatah’s efforts were essential to the rescue of the abducted as he gave instructions of the bus’ location.
BBC reports that Sy had told the students that no-one would survive the attack which he was carrying out in protest for African migrant deaths at sea.
Italian police forces located the bus, forced it to stop and broke the rear glass windows to remove the children from danger.
Shehatah, who was born in 2005 in Italy despite not having official citizenship documentation, was hailed as a “hero” by his classmates.
“My son did his duty, it would be nice if he got Italian citizenship now,” he told the news agency. “We would love to stay in this country. When I met him yesterday I hugged him hard,” said Shehata’s father as per Italian news agency, Ansa.
The driver recorded a video in which he addressed his motives which is being obtained by officials, and head of counter-terrorism at the public prosecutor’s office in Milan, Alberto Nobili, stated that the suspect was unattached to terrorist elements as per BBC.
Nobili reinforced the idea that it was a lone effort as he told reporters that it was a “personal choice” on the part of Sy who “could no longer see children torn apart by sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, pregnant women dead”.
Sy, who was convicted twice for sexual assault and drunk driving, might have his Italian citizenship revoked.
Italy’s currently strongest and ruling League party, which is right wing, has adopted anti-immigration stance in a bid to curtail mafia activity related to human-trafficking and the illegal arrival of more migrants into the EU state, and the rest of the continent.
Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini has been vocal about closing the countries’ waters and discouraging private and NGO vessels from bringing rescued migrants into Italy.
According to the International Organization for Migration, 289 people have died when traversing the Medtirreanean in 2019.