At Least 240 Migrants Have Drowned Off The Coast Of Libya Within The Last 48 Hours, Possibly As An Unintended Consequence Of European Efforts To Stop People-smugglers And To Train Libyan Coastguards, The U.N.'s Migration Agency Said. Five Rescue Ships, Coordinated By The Italian Coastguard, Were Within Sight Of The Migrants But, Despite Attempts To Rescue Them, Most Died.
A Total 31 Survivors Of Two Shipwrecks Who Arrived On The Southern Italian Island Of Lampedusa Reported That The Rubber Dinghies They Were Traveling In Had Capsized On Wednesday In Heavy Seas Shortly After Leaving Libya.
The First Dinghy - Which Carried Around 140 People, Including Six Children And About 20 Women, Some Pregnant - Sank When Wooden Planks Laid At The Bottom Broke, Causing The Dinghy To Capsize 40km Off The Libyan Coast, The UNHCR Said. Twenty-nine People Were Rescued And 12 Bodies Were Recovered.
In A Separate Operation, Two Women Found Swimming At Sea Told Rescuers That 128 Other People Had Died In Their Wreck.
In Both Cases, Most Of The People On Board Appeared To Have Been From Sub-Sahara Africa, But Sami Said Aid Workers Were Still Ascertaining Details.Sources Said That The Latest Wrecks Meant That 4,220 Lives Had Now Been Lost In The Mediterranean So Far This Year - The Highest Toll On Record.
Migrant Arrivals In Italy Surged To 27,388 In October, More Than The Two Previous Octobers Combined, And Bringing This Year's Total To More Than 158,000, IOM Spokesman Told .Refugees Have Told The IOM That People Smugglers Say European Training Of Libyan Coastguards Means That Rescue Missions May Soon Be Handed Over To Libya, And That Any Rescued Migrants Will Be Taken Ashore In The Northern African Country Rather Than In Italy.
According To Doyle, The Use Of Dinghies, Especially Unsuitable For The Long Sea Crossing In Bad Weather, Was Partly Due To European Navies Capturing And Destroying Many Of The Fishing Boats That Smugglers Had Been Using.
"In The Absence Of Those Boats And With The Migrants Determined To Leave, And The Smugglers Interested In Making Money Off Them, They Have Been Putting Them In Completely Unsafe Rubber Dinghies," He Said.
Survivors From One Dinghy, Whose Passengers Included About 20 Women And Six Children, All Believed To Be From West Africa, Said They Set Off From Libya At About 3 A.m. (0500 GMT) On Wednesday, But The Boat Sank After A Few Hours. Twelve Bodies Were Recovered, Including Three Babies, And About 27 Survived.
Separately, Italy's Coastguard Said Rescuers Pulled About 766 People To Safety From Boats In Difficulty In The Central Mediterranean On Thursday, And Found The Dead Body Of One Woman. Another Two Women Said They Had Survived The Sinking Of A Second Dinghy At About The Same Time. Theirs Was Carrying About 130 People, They Said.The IOM Said The Latest Deaths Meant 4,220 Migrants Had Died In The Mediterranean So Far This Year, Compared With 3,777 In The Whole Of 2015.
Courtesy: MSN, India Times
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