Rome – Italian magistrates have opened an investigation after video was posted on the Internet showing a Gambian man drowning in Venice’s Grand Canal as onlookers watched from nearby boats, local media said on Wednesday.

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 he wanted to commit suicide. No-one jumped in to help him.

Police said the incident happened on Sunday.

A video recording shown on various news websites appeared to pick up some bystanders yelling at the flailing man. “He is stupid. He wants to die,” says one person.

Italian media said Sabally had residency papers for Italy.