More than 200 migrants are feared to have drowned to death after a boat carrying 600 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea.In a statement, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said around 400 people had been rescued from the water.
A spokesman confirmed that rescue ships including vessels from the Italian and Irish navies and humanitarian agency Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF) recovered 25 bodies after the boat sank off the Libyan coast on Wednesday and found no more overnight.
Early on Thursday, another large migrant boat was spotted in the area, just 30 miles from the Libyan coast, and one of the Italian rescue ships was sent to its aid, the spokesman added.Wednesday’s incident occurred when the boat ran into rough weather about 15 miles (25km) from Libya’s coast.
A distress call was picked up in Sicily and one of the first ships on the scene was an Irish navy vessel, the LÉ Niamh, but as she launched her boats, the migrants apparently moved to one side of the fishing boat, causing it to capsize.Martin Xuereb of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station in Malta, (one the groups involved in the rescue effort) said
“Those that were on deck would have managed to jump, some of them drowned and some of them were saved”.”I think it’s unlikely that any additional survivors will be picked up.”
“We don’t know how many people might be trapped within the belly of the boat that capsized and sunk, that’s our greatest fear tonight,”
“People were clinging to life rafts, fighting for their lives” MSF had stated in a tweet yesterday.Seven ships as well as helicopters have been involved in the search operationThe Mediterranean Sea has become the world’s most deadly border area for migrants.
More than 2,000 migrants and refugees have died so far this year in attempts to reach Europe by boat, compared with 3,279 deaths during the whole of last year, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.