One hundred and seventeen people are feared to have drowned off the coast of Libya after a dinghy capsised in the Mediterranean, a spokesman for the UN’s migration agency (IOM), Flavio Di Giacomo said, yesterday.
“There are therefore 117 missing people including 10 women and two children (one was just two months old),” the spokesman wrote on Twitter.
He added that many of the migrants on board were from West Africa, but there were also about 40 Sudanese on board, according to those who survived.
The survivors were rescued by the Italian coastguard on Friday and brought to the island of Lampedusa. Di Giacomo later told Italian media that the incident could be a much worse tragedy.
“They told us that 120 people were on the dinghy that set out from Libya on Thursday night. “After 10 to 11 hours at sea, the boat began deflating and started to sink.
The people fell into the sea and drowned,” Di Giacomo said Since Italy has largely closed its ports to migrants, fewer and fewer of them are arriving from Libya.
However, people are still dying on the dangerous crossing. “As long as Europe’s ports remain open, as long as someone helps the smugglers, unfortunately the smugglers continue to do business and continue killing,” Italy’s right-wing Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini said.