Up to 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean

2016-05-29 17:57:10

Up to 700 migrants are feared to have drowned in deadly shipwrecks off the coast of Libya this week, the UN’s refugee agency said Sunday, citing survivor testimony.

“The situation is chaotic, we cannot be sure of the numbers, but we fear up to 700 people may have drowned in three shipwrecks this week,” one of which was believed to have claimed over 500 lives, UNHCR spokesman Federico Fossi told AFP.

About 500 migrants were declared lost after the fishing boat they were on capsized on Thursday morning off Libya, with survivors saying at least 40 of the dead were children, including newborn babies.

Some 100 people were missing after a boat sank Wednesday and 45 bodies were recovered from a wreck that happened Friday, with more feared lost.

“We’ll never know the exact number, we’ll never know their identity, but survivors tell that over 500 human beings died” in Thursday’s shipwreck, Carlotta Sami, UNHCR spokeswoman, said on Twitter.

Brought to safety at the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo, survivors told the UNHCR and Save the Children how their boat had sunk after a high-seas drama which saw one woman decapitated.

Giovanna Di Benedetto, Save the Children’s spokesperson in Sicily, told AFP it was impossible to verify the numbers involved but survivors spoke of around 1,100 people setting out from Sabratha in Libya on Wednesday in two fishing boats and a dinghy.