700 migrants drown off Libya - CVIEW NEWS

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Sunday, 19 April 2015

700 migrants drown off Libya



As many as 700 migrants are feared drowned after their packed boat capsized off Libya in what is being described as the deadliest such disaster to date in the Mediterranean.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Italy's coastguard said only 28 people had survived the wreck.
Testimonies suggested there had been about 700 people on board the 20-metre fishing boat, officials said.
"It seems we are looking at the worst massacre ever seen in the Mediterranean," UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami said.
Malta's prime minister Joseph Muscat said rescuers were at the scene searching for survivors among corpses floating in the water.
"They are literally trying to find people alive among the dead floating in the water," he said.
"This could possibly be the biggest tragedy to have ever taken place in the Mediterranean.
"Children, men, and women have died."
A total of 17 boats scoured the area for survivors on Sunday but only 24 bodies had been recovered so far, the Italian coastguard said.
"Although we are seeing encouraging signs from European politicians, action must be taken," Mr Muscat said.
We have said too many times 'never again'. Now is time for the European Union as such to tackle these tragedies without delay.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini
"A time will come when Europe will be judged harshly for its inaction as it was judged when it had turned a blind eye to genocide."
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi called for an emergency summit of European Union (EU) leaders.
"We are working to ensure this meeting can be held by the end of the week," he said.
"It has to be a priority.
"We cannot remain insensitive when every day there is a massacre in the Mediterranean."
The EU announced an emergency meeting of foreign and interior ministers to discuss what Amnesty International described as an avoidable "man-made tragedy".
"We have said too many times 'never again'," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
"Now is time for the European Union as such to tackle these tragedies without delay."
In indirect criticism of northern EU countries that have so far left rescue operations to southern states such as Italy, Ms Mogherini said: "We need to save human lives all together, as all together we need to protect our borders and to fight the trafficking of human beings."
Coastal authorities in Italy and Malta picked up a distress signal from the stricken vessel around midnight (local time) on Saturday, when it was about 126 kilometres off the Libyan coast and 177 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
The Italian coastguard instructed a nearby merchant ship to go to the scene and it was when the Portuguese-registered King Jacob arrived at the scene that the fishing boat capsized, most likely as a result of the terrified passengers stampeding to one side in their desperation to get off, Ms Sami said.


 A migrant is helped from a coast guard boat in the Sicilian Habour of Palermo


                                Rescued migrant by Meditarian navy in Italy



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