Thursday, 27 August 2015

Bodies of 50 migrants found in hull of boat rescued off Libyan coast

About 50 bodies were found in the hull of a migrant boat that was rescued off Libya’s northern coast on Wednesday, adding to the more than 2,400 people who have perished at sea this year making the Mediterranean crossing to Europe.

Italy’s coastguard says the Swedish ship Poseidon, which is taking part in the EU’s Triton Mediterranean operation, rescued 439 people from the ship.

Italian media reports say the deaths were probably caused by asphyxiation.

The rescue was one of 10 requests for assistance that arrived at the coastguard’s operations centre as Libya-based smugglers take advantage of calm seas to send boats overloaded with migrants to Europe.

Mediterranean tragedy

Earlier in August, the Italian navy discovered the bodies of 49 people in the hold of a vessel.

Those migrants were thought to have died of asphyxiation. Survivors later testified that smugglers had forced them to remain in the hold.

Smugglers based in Libya are believed to be taking advantage of calmer seas to send more boatloads of migrants towards European shores.

European officials have described the plight of migrants, almost 250,000 of whom have crossed by boat to the continent this year, as "beyond urgent".

So far this year, more than 2,000 migrants have died trying to cross the sea to Europe, the UN says.

Migrants by the tens of thousands are braving the perilous journey across the Mediterranean this year, hoping to reach Europe and be granted asylum. They are fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The UN refugee agency says more than 2,400 people have died at sea so this year.

Thursday 27 August 2015


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