Footage of a Gambian man drowning in Italy while onlookers watch, jeer, film and racially insult him, has gone viral on social media.

According to Independent UK, an investigation has since been opened after the African refugee drowned in Venice’s Great Canal, as onlookers watched from nearby boats and filmed him with their phones.

Footage shows Pateh Sabally, 22, waving in the middle of the canal.

The footage shown on various news websites appeared to pick up some Heartless onlookers yelling at the flailing man. “He is stupid. He wants to die,” one person says. Another person allegedly shouts: “Go on, go back home.”

“Go on, go back home,” he says.

No one jumps to help him.

The Sun says at least three life-rings were thrown into the water near the man, who was named as Pateh Sabally, a 22-year-old Gambian, but he did not appear to reach for them, raising speculation that he wanted to kill himself. No one jumped in to help him.

More than 181 000 migrants arrived in Italy by boat in 2016, most of them from sub-Saharan Africa, an increase of almost 18% compared with 2015, reports say.

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