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Hundreds of Migrants Feared to Have Drowned

Views:4     Author:Site Editor     Publish Time: 2016-05-30      Origin:Site

European Union officials gathered in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss the
sinking of a crowded boat in the Mediterranean Sea. The boat was carrying
hundreds of people hoping to immigrate to Europe. It sank over the weekend
off the coast of Libya. About 700 people may have drowned.

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The shipwrecks appear to account for the largest loss of life reported in the
Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single ship sank with an estimated 800
people trapped inside. Humanitarian organizations said that many migrant boats
sink without a trace, with the dead never found, and their fates only recounted
by family members who report their failure to arrive in Europe.


Warmer waters and calmer weather of late have only increased the migrants’
attempts to reach Europe.


The largest number of missing and presumed dead was aboard a wooden fishing
boat being towed by another smugglers’ boat from the Libyan port of Sabratha
that sank Thursday. 


Estimates by police and humanitarian organizations range from around 400 to
about 550 missing in that sinking alone.


One survivor from Eritrea, 21-year-old Filmon Selomon, told The Associated
Press that water started seeping into the second boat after three hours of
navigation, and that the migrants tried vainly to get the water out of the
sinking boat.


According to Italian police, 300 people in the hold went down with the second
boat when it sank, while around 200 on the upper deck jumped into the sea.
Just 90 of those were saved, along with about 500 in the first boat.


Italian police said survivors identified the commander of the boat with the
working engine as a 28-year-old Sudanese man, who has been arrested and
faces possible charges for the deaths. Three other smugglers involved in other
crossings also were arrested, police announced.

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Carlotta Sami, spokeswoman in Italy for UNHCR, put the number of migrants
and refugees missing in that incident at 550 based on a higher tally of 670
people on board. She said 15 
bodies were recovered, while 70 survivors were
plucked from the sea and 25 swam to the other boat.


Most of the people on board were Eritrean, according to Save the Children,
including many women and children. One of the survivors included a 4-year-old
girl whose mother had been killed in a traffic accident in Libya just days before
embarking, Di Benedetto said.


The UNHCR’s Sami also said that an estimated 100 people are missing from a
smugglers
’ boat that capsized Wednesday off the coast of Libya, captured in
dramatic footage by Italian rescuers.

In a third shipwreck on Friday, Sami said 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies
were recovered and an unknown numbers of migrants were still missing.


Because the bodies went missing in the open sea, it is impossible to verify
the numbers who died. Humanitarian organizations and investigating authorities
typically rely on survivors’ accounts to piece together what happened, relying
 
Italy’s southern islands are the main destinations for countless numbers of
smuggling boats launched from the shores of lawless Libya each week packed
with people seeking jobs and safety in Europe. Hundreds of migrants drown
each year attempting the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing.


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