The Save the Children aid group reported on Tuesday that the survivors of the incident said “dozens” fell out of the rubber boat they were travelling in as a rescue vessel was coming to their aid. It is believed the incident took place on Sunday.
Giovanna di Benedetto from Save the Children agency said the survivors who arrived in Catania on Tuesday spoke to officials of the aid agency and stated that there were “137 people aboard” and “dozens” of people fell out of the “inflatable boat that deflated or exploded” and most likely drowned.
According to Benedetto some survivors claimed around 40 people died.
A commercial vessel named Zeran rescued the survivors that were travelling in a rubber boat between Libya and Sicily.
The Italian coast guard has confirmed that nearly 7,000 people were rescued in an operation conducted over the weekend.
The operations came after an April 23 decision by the European Union to increase patrols in the Mediterranean against human trafficking, following the death of more than 800 migrants on April 20 when an overcrowded boat capsized in the sea between Italy and Libya.
More than 5,000 migrants died drawing since the start of this year as the humanitarian situation in the Middle East and Africa continues to urge people to leave their homelands in hope of a new life in the west.
The European Union detected more than 280,000 illegal border crossings in 2014 while more 170,000 migrants came crossing the Mediterranean Sea, almost quadrupling the number from the previous year.