Nearly 150 migrants feared dead after boat sinks, sole survivor says | Reuters
By Steve Scherer | ROME ROME A rubber boat packed with migrants sank in the Mediterranean and the presumed sole survivor - a 16-year-old Gambian boy - told rescuers he believed all other passengers drowned, the International Migration Organization (IOM) said on Wednesday.A humanitarian vessel, the Iuventa, found the boy hanging onto a fuel tank in the sea on Tuesday. He was transferred first to an Italian Coast Guard ship, then to a Spanish frigate and brought to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa early on Wednesday.'He said that everyone else died. But there's some hope that the Italian Coast Guard picked up others,' said IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo in Rome, after speaking to staff in Lampedusa.
By Steve Scherer
ROME A rubber boat packed with migrants sank in the Mediterranean and the presumed sole survivor - a 16-year-old Gambian boy - told rescuers he believed all other passengers drowned, the International Migration Organization (IOM) said on Wednesday.A humanitarian vessel, the Iuventa, found the boy hanging onto a fuel tank in the sea on Tuesday. He was transferred first to an Italian Coast Guard ship, then to a Spanish frigate and brought to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa early on Wednesday."He said that everyone else died. But there's some hope that the Italian Coast Guard picked up others," said IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo in Rome, after speaking to staff in Lampedusa. It should become clear on Thursday whether others survived, as a Coast Guard vessel disembarks migrants in eastern Sicily that day, he said."The boy said they left Sabratha, Libya, a couple days ago on a rubber boat with 147 sub-Saharan Africans on board, including five children and some pregnant women," Di Giacomo said.
In the past two days, rescuers have picked up more than 1,100 migrants at sea, and recovered one body, Italy's Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard did not comment on the latest shipwreck.So far this year nearly 600 migrants have died trying to reach Italy from North Africa, IOM estimates, after some 4,600 deaths last year. Migrant arrivals to Italy are up more than 50 percent this year on the same period of last year.Early on Wednesday the Golfo Azzurro, a humanitarian vessel, rescued about 400 migrants - mainly from Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Gambia and Bangladesh - including 16 women and two children.
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."The migrants kissed and hugged their rescuers and sang songs" after they were brought to safety, said Reuters photographer Yannis Behrakis, who is onboard the Golfo Azzurro.
"My brother back home convinced me to make the trip," said Gambian Kalifa Kujabi, 17, after the rescue. He said he played for Gambia's soccer academy and paid $600 for the passage. "My brother said that I can only have a future as a soccer player in Europe." Italy's parliament on Wednesday approved a law aimed at protecting unaccompanied minors in a measure welcomed by humanitarian groups.Also on Wednesday, the Senate voted to pass a decree that foresees new detention centres for migrants who are to be deported, cutting the length of the appeals process for those whose asylum requests have been rejected. The decree now goes before the lower house. (Additional reporting by Yannis Behrakis on board the Golfo Azzurro; Editing by Julia Glover)
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By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.