200 migrants missing in Mediterranean boat tragedy
More than 200 migrants are missing after their boats sank in the Mediterranean Sea, according to survivors of the latest tragedy in the area, international agencies said on Wednesday.
Nine survivors landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday, out of more than 200 who had left Libya on Saturday in two rubber dinghies, the International Organisation for Migration said.
“Nine were saved after four days at sea. The other 203 were swallowed by the waves,” UNHCR spokeswoman in Italy, Carlotta Sami, said on Twitter.
The IOM said the surviving migrants spoke French, so probably came from west African nations such as Ivory Coast and Senegal. “Because of the bad weather conditions, the two dinghies collapsed and the people fell at sea. Many drowned,” IOM official Flavio Di Giacomo said.
He said the migrants had left with another dinghy carrying a group of Africans, 29 of whom were killed by exposure trying to make the short but perilous crossing from Libya to Lampedusa.
Meanwhile, The UN refugee agency says as many as 300 people are now unaccounted-for in the latest tragedy among migrants crossing the frigid Mediterranean.
The spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Carlotta Sami, says survivors have confirmed the existence of a fourth rubber boat that left Libya on Sunday. In a statement, the UNHCR says that means some 300 people are missing. Earlier, the agency cited survivors as saying 203 people had died in the crossing.
The UN, Save the Children and other aid organizations are sharply criticizing the new EU border patrol operation as inadequate for saving lives.
The EU took over Italy’s Mare Nostrum operation last year, but it only patrols close to Europe’s coast. Italy had patrolled the waters up to Libya’s coast.
Survivors of another deadly Mediterranean crossing reported that at least 200 migrants and possibly many more died in frigid temperatures in the open-sea crossing from Libya to Europe, the UN refugee agency said on Wednesday.
The deaths add to the 29 reported earlier in the week by the Italian coast guard, which said the victims had died of hypothermia during the voyage that began Sunday in Libya.
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