Migrant boat capsizes off Libya

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Hundreds missing as migrant boat capsizes off Libya coast

  • 5 August 2015
  • From the section Africa
An image published online by MSF showing its rescue of nearly 100 migrants from the Mediterranean - 5 July 2015
Medecins Sans Frontieres confirmed that one of its vessels was involved in rescue efforts

Rescuers are searching for hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean after the boat they were on capsized off Libya.

Some reports suggest as many as 700 people were on board the overcrowded vessel when it came into difficulty.

The Irish navy said it feared “a significant loss of life” and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) confirmed several deaths but gave no more details.

More than 2,000 migrants are said to have died in 2015 trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Wednesday’s incident occurred when the packed fishing boat ran into rough weather about 15 miles (25km) from the Libya’s coast.

A distress call was picked up in Sicily and one of the first ships on the scene was an Irish navy vessel. But as she launched her boats, the migrants apparently moved to one side of the fishing boat, causing it to capsize.

At least three other ships and three helicopters were reported to have arrived in the area shortly afterwards to help with the rescue.

MSF said its Dignity I vessel was at the scene and two more of its boats were on their way to the area.

“The team on the #Dignity1 can confirm that there have tragically been many deaths but does not have figures at this stage,” MSF said in a tweet.

The Italian branch of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said 250 people had been rescued and 16 bodies recovered.

Earlier this week, the ION warned that the number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean is much higher than in the same period last year.

“It is unacceptable that in the 21st Century people fleeing from conflict, persecutions, misery and land degradation must endure such terrible experiences […] and then die on Europe’s doorstep,” IOM director general William Lacy Swing said in a statement.

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