This handout picture released on May 25, 2016 by the Italian Navy shows a rescue operation during the shipwreck of an overcrowded boat of refugees off the Libyan coast. ©AFP
The European Union
’s naval force says up to 30 people are believed to have lost their lives following a shipwreck off the Libyan coast.
“We estimate the dead to be between 20 and 30 people,” Captain Antonello de Renzis Sonnino, spokesman for the EU
’s Sofia military operation to combat people smugglers in the Mediterranean Sea, said on Thursday.
The captain also stated that the fatalities related to an incident, in which a boat capsized about 35 nautical miles off Libya
A Luxembourg reconnaissance plane spotted the vessel with about 100 asylum seekers in the water or clinging to the sinking ship, the EU official said, adding that the rescue operation was still ongoing.
Meanwhile, Italy’s coast guard commander Cosimo Nicastro said 88 people had been rescued from the capsized wooden boat.
The shipwreck came one day after another refugee boat disaster, where at least five people drowned and 550 were rescued by the Italian coast guard. The casualties came after a fishing boat packed with refugees capsized off the Libyan coast.
A series of photos taken by the Italian navy shows the people on board trying to save themselves as the crammed wooden vessel tilts into the sea.
This combination of handout pictures released on May 25, 2016 by the Italian navy shows the shipwreck of an overcrowded boat of refugees off the Libyan coast. ©AFP
More than 6,000 people have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea this week, bringing to nearly 40,000 the number of those rescued and brought to Italy since the start of 2016.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict zones in Africa
and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Many blame major European powers for the unprecedented exodus, saying their policies have led to a surge in terrorism and war in the violence-hit regions, forcing more people out of their homes.
More than 191,130 asylum seekers have reached Europe via the Mediterranean so far this year, while 1,370 people died in their perilous journey to the continent, according to the latest figures by the International Organization of Migration (IOM).