ROME — Three survivors of a rubber dinghy that sank within the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya say as much as 117 different migrants have been aboard on the time, a U.N. migration official mentioned Saturday.
It gave the impression to be the most recent tragedy on the harmful central Mediterranean route from North Africa to Europe.
Flavio Di Giacomo of the Worldwide Group for Migration (IOM) informed Italian state TV that “sadly about 120” migrants have been reported by survivors to have been on the overloaded smugglers’ dinghy when it was launched from Libyan shores on Thursday night.
“After a number of hours, it started sinking and folks started drowning,” Di Giacomo mentioned.
Among the many lacking are 10 girls and two kids, together with a two-month-old child, he mentioned. Survivors indicated their fellow migrants got here from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Sudan, Di Giacomo mentioned.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who has urged that the federal government present extra compassion for migrants, expressed his “deep sorrow for the tragedy that has taken place within the Mediterranean.”
Premier Giuseppe Conte informed reporters he was “shocked” on the studies of the sinking and vowed that Italy would proceed to fight human traffickers.
Italy’s populist authorities has banned non-public rescue boats from bringing migrants to Italian shores. Along with Malta, Italy has additionally launched probes of the rescue teams themselves, claiming their operations may facilitate trafficking.
The three survivors of the sinking have been plucked to security by an Italian navy helicopter on Friday afternoon, the navy mentioned.
The Italian navy mentioned when its patrol aircraft first noticed the sinking dinghy it had about 20 individuals aboard. The aircraft’s crew launched two life rafts close to the dinghy, which inflated, and a navy destroyer despatched a helicopter to the scene.
That helicopter rescued the survivors, two from a life raft and one from the water, the navy mentioned, including that each one had hypothermia.
They have been flown to Lampedusa, an Italian island close to Sicily, and handled in a hospital, Di Giacomo mentioned.
Many migrants can not afford to pay for all times vests, an additional value when boarding a smuggler’s boat in Libya. The survivors mentioned the migrants aboard the dinghy didn’t have any.
It wasn’t instantly clear precisely what number of migrants might need died earlier than the navy aircraft noticed the sinking dinghy.
The Italian Coast Guard says Libya requested a close-by cargo ship to seek for survivors however the ship reported it discovered nobody.
Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Gassim mentioned one in all its boats was despatched Friday to the scene but it surely “had a mechanical situation and we needed to name it again.” The official mentioned 50 migrants have been believed to have been aboard the dinghy when it set sail.
In line with the IOM, not less than 2,297 folks died at sea or went lacking making an attempt to achieve Europe in 2018. In all, 116,959 migrants reached Europe by sea routes final 12 months, it says.
The U.N. refugee company UNHCR, mentioned Saturday it was “appalled” on the information of the most recent migrant deaths within the Mediterranean. In a press release from its Geneva headquarters, it mentioned along with these lacking off Libya, 53 folks died in latest days within the western Mediterranean, the place one survivor was rescued by a fishing boat after being stranded for greater than 24 hours at sea.
“We can not flip a blind eye to the excessive numbers of individuals dying on Europe’s doorstep,” mentioned U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.
Italy has educated and geared up the Libyan coast guard so it may intercept and rescue extra migrant boats nearer to their shores. However U.N. refugee officers and rights advocates say the migrants rescued by the Libyans are returned to harmful, overcrowded detention services, the place detainees face inadequate rations, rape, beatings and torture.