Plucked from the Mediterranean, over 400 migrants saved from a capsized dinghy off Libyan coast
The Golfo Azzurro, a humanitarian vessel, rescued about 400 migrants - mainly from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Gambia and Bangladesh - including 16 women and two children.
About 146 migrants are feared missing after their boat capsized after leaving Libya, according to a Gambian youth who was rescued following the disaster. Since the beginning of this year, at least 590 migrants have died or gone missing along the Libyan coast, excluding this latest capsizing, according to the IOM estimates. Reuters
Following the incident, a rescue operation by the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms was launched in the central Mediterranean, off Libyan coast. The Golfo Azzurro, a humanitarian vessel, rescued about 400 migrants - mainly from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Gambia and Bangladesh - including 16 women and two children. "The migrants kissed and hugged their rescuers and sang songs" after they were brought to safety, according to Reuters. Reuters
They were found drifting in a wooden boat without power about 16 kilometres (10 miles) off the coast of Sabratha, the most frequently used departure point currently used by people smugglers in Libya, and will now be transported to Sicily. Last week, the Spanish group Pro-Activa Open Arms discovered two empty and partially capsized dinghies, raising fears that hundreds of migrants could be missing, since smugglers often pack 120 to 140 people on such vessels, and sometimes many more. Reuters
But these incidents are not included in the IOM's estimates, in particular as one of the vessels may have been one that capsized in Libyan waters shortly before then, in which 54 people were rescued but 66 were missing. The dangers have not slowed the surge in arrivals this year, however: The Italian coastguard says it orchestrated the rescue of more than 1,100 migrants off Libya between Tuesday and Wednesday morning. Reuters
Prior to Thursday's discovery, the UN estimated at least 440 migrants had died trying to make the crossing to Italy since the start of 2017, based on bodies recovered and testimonies from survivors of shipwrecks. But nobody knows how many people have drowned without trace. Reuters
Italy's interior ministry forecasts its overstretched facilities for asylum seekers will have to accommodate about another 250,000 this year, despite Rome beefing up cooperation with Libya, its former colony, to try to tackle the problem. Reuters