Mediterranean: 170 fatal casualties in the Mediterranean feared

In a boat accident off the coast Libya could have killed up to 120 people. This was reported by spokesman of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Flavio Di Giacomo, on Twitter. Di Giacomo refers to the statements of the three allegedly single survivors of the disaster.

Accordingly, the accident should have already occurred on Friday. About 120 people are said to have filed in the night from Thursday to Friday with a rubber dinghy from the Libyan coast, which then fell, according to the Italian Navy about 50 nautical miles northeast of the Libyan capital Tripoli in distress.

"They said there were 120 people on the rubber dinghy, and after ten to eleven hours of travel, the boat lost its air and sunk, people fell into the sea and drowned," the Italian news agency quotes Adnkronos Di Giacomo. On board were therefore mainly West Africans and about 40 Sudanese. According to the survivors, the missing persons include women and two small children.

The Italian Navy had initially reported that there were still about 20 people on the sinking boat. Three of them could have been rescued and taken by helicopter to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Rescuers criticize late help

The three survivors, meanwhile, raised charges against those responsible. For several hours there was no help. The Italian Coast Guard, on the other hand, said that it had acted in accordance with international rules, informed the relevant colleagues in Libya and offered their support. In addition, Libya had asked a cargo ship nearby to search for survivors. However, no one was found. Also, the aid offer of the German maritime rescue organization Sea-Watch has been forwarded, said the Italian Coast Guard.

"Without safe and legal ways for people looking for security in Europe (…), the Mediterranean remains a cemetery," tweeted the aid organization Doctors Without Borders. Since the beginning of the year – not including the last misfortune – according to IOM in Mediterranean Sea 83 people died.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, whom critics accuse of a refugee-hostile immigration policy, sees the guilt in smugglers. "As long as Europe's ports remain open as long as someone helps the smugglers, unfortunately, the smugglers continue to do business and continue killing," Salvini said after the disaster.

Another ship sank between Spain and Morocco

According to information from the UN refugee agency UNHCR and various aid organizations, another boat crashed with refugees and migrants between Morocco and Spain a few days ago. According to a survivor 53 people died. The man was driven on the sea for 24 hours until he was rescued by a fishing boat. The information on both ship accidents can not be independently verified.

The UNHCR was "horrified" by the reports. "We can not close our eyes when so many people are dying on the threshold of Europe," said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.

Rescue ship "Sea-Watch 3" reports rescue operation

The German aid organization Sea-Watch has meanwhile stated that it has rescued migrants from the Mediterranean. 47 people were rescued from distress; they are safe and supplied. Where the Sea-Watch 3 can create with the rescued, is not clear. Salvini already refused to accept the ship in Italy.

In recent months, several rescue ships with migrants have been blocked for days at sea. Among them were recently two ships of the German aid organizations Sea-Watch and Sea-Eye. It was only after several EU countries agreed to accept the people that the Maltese government finally granted the rescue ships access to a port.

Since the Maltese and Italian governments largely closed their ports to migrants, the number of arrivals has dropped significantly. Italy and the EU are helping the Libyan Coast Guard to bring people back to Libya, where most migrants leave.

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