Seven hundred people are feared to have drowned when a
fishing boat smuggling migrants to Europe capsized off
Libya, the UN’s refugee agency said Sunday, in what could
be the deadliest Mediterranean migrant disaster yet.
Only 28 people survived the capsize, UNHCR spokeswoman
Carlotta Sami told the Skytg24 news channel in Italy. The
survivors indicated there had been more than 700 on board,
The Maltese navy put the numbers on board at around 650
and said an alert had come in around midnight (2200 GMT)
“We have deployed our assets along with others from Italy
and we are a$$isting in the rescue operation,” a Maltese
navy spokesman told AFP Sunday without giving any other
If confirmed, the tragedy would be by far the biggest in a
growing catalogue of ma$$ drownings of migrants
attempting to reach the European Union on overcrowded,
unseaworthy boats run by people smugglers.
The boat went down about 60 miles (96 km) off the Libyan
coast and 120 miles (193 km) south of the Italian island of
The disaster comes after a week in which two other
shipwrecks left an estimated 450 people dead. More than
11,000 other would-be immigrants to Europe have been
rescued by Italy’s coastguard and other boats.
Some 1,500 migrants have now drowned in the waters
between Libya and Italy since the start of the year.
Aid organisations have called for a concerted international
effort to put better search-and-rescue systems in place and
for action to stem the unprecedented numbers of asylum
seekers and migrants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa
seeking to reach Europe.
Source: PM NEWS