Plight of African Migrants: Shipwrecks Account for Hundreds of Deaths

05 July 2016
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SURVIVOR accounts have pushed to more than 700 the number of migrants feared dead in Mediterranean Sea shipwrecks over three days in the last week of May, even as rescue ships saved thousands of others. The shipwrecks appear to account for the largest loss of life reported in the Mediterranean since April 2015, when a single ship sank with an estimated 800 people trapped inside. Humanitarian organisations say that many migrant boats sink without a trace, with the dead never found, and their fates only recounted by family members who report their failure to arrive in Europe. The largest number of missing and presumed dead was aboard a wooden fishing boat being towed by another smugglers’ boat from the Libyan port of Sabratha that sank on 26th. Estimates based on survivor accounts, range from around 400 to about 550 missing in that sinking alone.

Survivors’ from Eritrea told that water started seeping into the second boat after three hours of navigation, and that the migrants tried vainly to get the water out of the sinking boat. Water was coming from everywhere. We tried for six hours after which we found it was not possible anymore. According to Italian police, 300 people in the hold went down with the second boat when it sank, while around 200 on the upper deck jumped into the sea. Just 90 of those were saved, along with about 500 in the first boat. Italy’s southern islands are the main destinations for countless numbers of smuggling boats launched from the shores of lawless Libya each week packed with people seeking jobs and safety in Europe. Hundreds of migrants drown each year attempting the dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossing. 
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