400 drown in migrant boat shipwreck

2015-04-14 22:23
An Italian Coast Guard vessel rescues a boatload of would-be migrants believed to be from North Africa in the waters off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy. (Daniele La Monaca, AP)

An Italian Coast Guard vessel rescues a boatload of would-be migrants believed to be from North Africa in the waters off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, Italy. (Daniele La Monaca, AP) (Daniele La Monaca)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Rome - About 400 migrants died in an attempt to reach Italy from Libya when their boat capsized, survivors said on Tuesday, the latest tragedy in the Mediterranean where the death toll from shipwrecks has surged this year.

The boat, carrying about 550 migrants in total, flipped about 24 hours after leaving the Libyan coast, according to some of the 150 survivors who were rescued and brought to a southern Italian port on Tuesday morning, Save the Children reported.

Before this incident there had already been more than 500 deaths of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa this year, up sharply from 47 in the same period of 2014, said the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The survivors of the latest shipwreck were mostly sub-Saharan Africans, but no further details were available, a Save the Children spokesperson told Reuters. It was not clear exactly when the boat had capsized.

The number of boats carrying migrants aiming to reach the EU from Africa has picked up in recent weeks as fine spring weather makes the passage safer. In February, more than 300 drowned when attempting the crossing in cold weather and rough seas.

Save the Children, the IOM and other humanitarian organisations have called for the European Union to bolster its sea rescue operations before the migrant flows soar as they usually do in the summer months.

On Monday, 2 851 migrants were saved in rescue operations in the Mediterranean, the Italian coastguard said, adding to at least nine who died and 5 629 who were saved over the weekend.

Italy, which handled the largest number of migrant arrivals in the EU, has become increasingly alarmed about the breakdown of law and order in Libya, which has greatly exacerbated the task of tackling the migrant flows. Libya is home to two rival governments, loosely aligned militia forces and a growing militant Islamist movement.

Separately, the EU border control agency Frontex said on Tuesday that migrant traffickers had fired shots to prevent their wooden boat being confiscated after rescuers saved the 250 people it was carrying off the coast of Libya.

After the migrants had been transferred, a speedboat approached and its crew fired several shots into the air before the assailants sped away with the empty migrant boat, Frontex said.

Frontex said the episode marked the second time this year that armed smugglers had taken back a vessel used to transport migrants following a rescue in the central Mediterranean.

Read more on:    italy  |  migrants

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.