At least 40 migrants died off the Libyan coast in the Mediterranean sea on Saturday in a fishing boat in which they were travelling before they reached the European shore, the Italian navy said.


As many as 312 migrants, including three minors and 45 women, were rescued when found on an overcrowded fishing ship some 21 miles off Libya. But dozens were recovered dead in the hold, likely after inhaling the exhaust gas on the boat.

Usually during the dangerous crossing, only those migrants who pay larger amounts of money can stay on the bridge of the boat to be away from exhaust gas, Massimo Tozzi, commander of the marine unit Cigala Fulgosi, told Rai State television.

“It was a scene with strong emotional impact,” Tozzi said. “There were several dead bodies submerged in water, fuel and human excrement … This is the picture that appeared to our men when they got on board,” he added.
The fresh disaster happened just days after 25 migrants drowned and some other 200 were feared to have died after their boat capsized also off the Libyan coast with hundreds of people onboard.

“We have intervened with a new search-and-rescue operation, not in our international water,” Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said in a television interview on Saturday. “The new tragedy will be not the last one if the Libyan problem is not solved,” he warned.

Alfano referred to the fact that four years after the civil war which toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi Libya has descended into anarchy, becoming a transit point for migrants seeking to reach European countries.
The migrants from Middle Eastern and African countries arriving in Europe, especially in Italy, are mixed, with some fleeing conflicts and persecution, and others seeking to escape poverty, famine and land degradation.
Since the beginning of this year, 103,000 sea migrants have landed in southern Italy, around 1,000 less compared to the same period last year, Alfano told a press conference on Saturday.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said earlier this week that the number of migrants who have arrived in Europe so far in 2015 is fast approaching the 250,000 mark.

This compares to 2014 figures which show that 219,000 migrants arrived in Europe over the course of the whole year, meaning that 2015 arrivals have already surpassed 2014 total arrivals.

The Channel of Sicily, in southern Italy, is a particularly dangerous route, yet IOM revealed that around 102,000 migrants have braved the passage from Libya to reach Italy so far this year.

According to the migration agency’s Missing Migrants Project, at least 2,300 people have lost their lives while attempting to reach European shores.

Among them, there were several children. In a recent interview, a spokesperson from Save the Children, Giovanna Di Benedetto, underlined that minors are the most vulnerable victims. She said every time it is a torture to see parents looking for their children among the corpses. Some of them still hope to find their beloved ones alive, but uselessly.

The European Union (EU) is trying to prevent the terrible tragedies and has tripled the resources dedicated to search and rescue efforts at sea. “We provide help where we can and to the greatest extent possible,” EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said on Friday.

“There is no simple nor single answer to the challenges posed by migration. And nor can any member state effectively address migration alone. It is clear that we need this new, more European approach,” he highlighted in a statement.

After increasing its presence at sea through naval operations, the EU 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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