Written by Ramesh Irugalbandara
28 Aug, 2015 | 9:18 am
A boat packed with mainly African migrants bound for Italy sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday (August 27) and officials said up to 200 might have died.
A security official in the western town of Zuwara, from where the overcrowded boat had set off, said there had around 400 people had been on board the boat. Many appeared to have been trapped in the hold when it capsized.By late in the evening, the Libyan coast guard rescued around 201, of which 147 were brought to a detention facility for illegal migrants
The migrants on board had been from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco and Bangladesh, the security official said. One Syrian refugee rescued from the boat, Ayman Tallaal, told Reuters he knew the trip was dangerous, but felt he had no choice.
The Italian coast guard, which has been coordinating rescue operations with the European Union off the Libyan coast, could not immediately confirm a sinking. However a spokesperson for the Red Crescent told Reuters 66 people had died in the incident.
Libya’s coast guard has very limited capabilities, relying on small inflatables, tug boats and fishing vessels. Zuwara, Libya’s most western town located near the Tunisian border, is a major launchpad for smugglers shipping migrants to Italy.
Libya has turned into a transit route for migrants fleeing conflict and poverty to make it to Europe. Cross-border smuggler networks exploit the country’s lawlessness and chaos to bring Syrians into Libya via Egypt or nationals of sub-Saharan countries via Niger, Sudan and Chad.
More than 2,300 people have died this year in attempts to reach Europe by boat, compared with 3,279 during the whole of last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.
200 feared dead as boat packed with migrants sinks off Libya Full story : http://goo.gl/6xH9iD
Posted by Newsfirst.lk on Thursday, August 27, 2015
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