Wednesday, 11/12/2019 | 2:32 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire

200 migrants feared drowned as boat capsizes (China Daily)

More than 200 migrants attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean were feared to have drowned on Wednesday after their overcrowded fishing boat capsized off Libya.

The boat, believed to have been carrying around 600 migrants including women and children, ran into difficulty about 15 nautical miles off Libya and sent out a distress call, which was picked up by the coastguard in Sicily.

Coast Guard spokesman Filippo Marini said around 400 people had been rescued from the water while 25 bodies had been recovered.

Irish patrol vessel LE Niamh and a ship deployed by medical charity Doctors Without Borders were among the first to be dispatched for the rescue mission.

According to the Irish authorities, 367 people, including 12 women and 13 children, had been rescued so far.

Six other people, including a baby and a survivor with a broken leg, were taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa, Federico Fossi, spokesman in Italy for the UN refugee agency, said.

While the sea was very calm, “the boat overturned and sank quickly because it was made of metal”, Fossi added.

The agency’s chief spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said on Twitter that 100 migrants were in the hull of the fishing vessel when it capsized.

Seven ships, several helicopters and a drone were helping the search for survivors.

More than 2,000 people have already died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s disaster could be the worst since 800 migrants were feared drowned off Libya in April.

Ireland Defense Minister Simon Coveney confirmed that the Niamh was diverted to the scene at 7 am and warned “the loss of life is likely to be significant”.

“The crew of the Niamh are working flat out with their counterparts to rescue as many as possible,” he said in a statement.

Also on Wednesday, 94 people on board a rubber boat were rescued in a separate operation, officials said.

Surviving migrants are brought aboard Irish and Italian navy life-boats after their boat capsized and sank off the coast of Libya on Wednesday. Reuters

(China Daily 08/07/2015 page11)