An African refugee has drowned in Venice – while crowds filmed the ordeal on their phones.

The man, who has been identified as 22-year-old Pateh Sabally from Gambia, drowned in Venice's Grand Canal while several of those watching from land and nearby boats directed racist remarks at the man and filmed him from their phone.

In one video, bystanders can be heard yelling abuse including "go on, go back home" and "he is stupid, he wants to die".

The Times reports that an investigation has now been launched into the incident, as the head of the Italian Association of Lifeguards, Dino Basso, admits more could have been done to help him.

According to Italian media, Pateh Sabally arrived in Italy two years earlier via boat. In 2015, more than 8,000 Gambians applied for asylum in Italy and only 247 applications were accepted.

[via The Independent]