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African refugee drowns in Venice as tourists film on phones – VIDEO

An investigation has been opened after an African refugee drowned in Venice’s Grand Canal as onlookers watched from nearby boats and filmed him with their phones.

A footage, that has gone viral on social media, shows the man, identified as 22-year-old Gambian Pateh Sabally, thrashing in the middle of the canal.

Hundreds of people witnessed the leap and at least three life rings were thrown into the water near the man, but he refused to hold on to them, raising speculation he wanted to commit suicide. No-one jumped in to help him.

Italian magistrates have now opened an investigation into the incident after a video of the scene was posted on the Internet amid claims were shouting racist abuse.

The recording appears to pick up some bystanders yelling at the flailing man. ‘He is stupid. He wants to die,’ says one person.

One person allegedly shouted: ‘Go on, go back home.’

In the video, onlookers start to laugh and one man can be heard saying, ‘Let him die at this point.’

Hundreds witnessed the migrant’s death and later saw his dead body being pulled out of the water wrapped in a blue bag and tied to a ladder.

A taxi driver told local media: “A young man threw himself into the water and two or three life jackets were thrown from the boat but he refused the help.”

A fellow cabbie added: “This is despair. I do not know the story of this guy. They have said he is African. Who knows what he’s been through, how many seas and deserts he has crossed? And he came to die in the most beautiful city in the world.”