The death toll of the migrant disaster occurred off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean sea on Saturday has increased to 49, local reports said on Sunday.


A total of 312 migrants, including three minors, were rescued by the Italian navy and are being taken along with the corpses of their fellows to Sicily island, where they are scheduled to arrive on Monday morning.
The 49 victims were recovered dead and submerged in water, fuel and human excrement, according to witnesses, in the hold of an overcrowded fishing ship some 21 miles off Libya.

They died after inhaling the exhaust gas on the boat, rescuers said, because only those migrants who pay larger amounts of money are allowed to stay shielded on the bridge of the boat.

Authorities in Catania, a city in eastern Sicily which has seen countless arrivals of sea migrants in recent months, announced a day of mourning following the disaster.

“This tragedy that is the result of an horrible cynicism reminds to me the tragedies of WWII,” Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco was quoted as saying by Adnkronos news agency.

“We will welcome survivors as our civilization dictates. We will provide burials to these poor women and men. Tuesday will be a day of mourning in Catania to honor their memory,” Bianco added.

Meanwhile, a total of 415 migrants including dozens of minors arrived in the nearby city of Augusta on Sunday after being rescued by a Croatian coast guard ship and an Italian finance police ship off the Libyan coast also on Saturday.

Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has warned that the fresh tragedy will be not the last one if the anarchy into which Libya has descended after the civil war which toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi is not solved.

According to estimates, since the beginning of this year 103,000 sea migrants have landed in Italy and nearly 250,000 have arrived in Europe so far in 2015. At least 2,300 people including many children have been reported to have lost their lives while attempting the dangerous crossing.

The European Union (EU) has tripled the search and rescue efforts and has announced a summit to be held in Valletta in November with key African countries to clamping down on smuggling networks, making returns more effective and showing solidarity with frontline countries. Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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