About 400 refugees die in Mediterranean boat disaster

About 400 refugees die as boat seeking to reach Italy sinks in Mediterranean Sea

Photo by: AP (Archive )
Photo by: AP (Archive )

Syrian refugees rescued from sinking boat off Greek island of Lesbos, February 10, 2016. File Photo.

Updated Apr 19, 2016

Several hundred people appear to have died in a new refugee tragedy in the Mediterranean, Italian President Sergio Mattarella said on Monday.

Unconfirmed media reports earlier on Monday spoke of up to 400 victims from boats which capsized near the Egyptian coast as they attempted to sail to Europe.

Mattarella, speaking at a prize giving ceremony in Rome, said Europe needed to reflect in the face of "yet another tragedy in the Mediterranean in which, it seems, several hundred people have died." He did not give any further details.

The Italian Coast Guard said earlier on Monday they knew nothing about the reported disaster.

Second tragedy on the same day

At least eight African migrants and refugees, and possibly as many as 27, died in another boat tragedy off the coast of Libya, a search and rescue organisation said on Monday.

French charity SOS Mediterranee said its boat, the Aquarius, had rescued 108 people from a stricken dinghy in high seas on Sunday.

One of the survivors told the crew of the Aquarius that there had been at least 135 people on board when the overcrowded vessel left the Libyan port of Sabratha.

Eight of the passengers were confirmed dead: six corpses were recovered in the dinghy and two were carried away by the waves after a mass panic resulted in dozens falling into the water as the rescue boat approached.

The dinghy, at that point, was already half-deflated and taking on water with the motor having given out some nine hours after it embarked from Libya on Sunday.

The survivors were nationals of 11 different African countries.

TRTWorld and agencies