At least 900 dead after migrant boat sinks in Mediterranean Sea

International Organization for Migration spokesman says migrant casualties this year higher than previous year

Updated Jul 28, 2015

At least 900 African migrants were killed when an overcrowded boat capsized off Libya Sunday, the highest number of migrant victims to be killed in the same day in the Mediterranean sea, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The IOM spokesman Flavio di Giacomo said migrant casualties this year are higher than last year. There were 96 deaths between January and April last year, while there have been over 1.600 deaths during the same period this year, including the latest tragedy.

The Italian coast guard has announced that only 28 people survived the accident site, which took place around 100 km off the Libyan coast.

Di Giacomo said there were several reason why such incidents have increased lately, namely that migrant carrying vessels are increasingly becoming worn-out and it is now harder to carry out massive rescue operations.

"Last year the Italian government had the Mare Nostrum operation, which monitored rescue over the entire sea area,” said di Giacomo.

“After its cancellation, we are left with only coastguards who are even risking their lives during rescue operations. But there are so many distress signals that they would never make it to all of them."

Attempts by migrant to cross illegally into Europe by boat have been a major problem since recent tensions and conflicts have arisen and worsened in the Middle East and the West Africa. The severity of the problem led European Union foreign ministers to meet in Luxembourg Monday, a day after the latest Mediterranean tragedy, to discuss the issue.

TRTWorld and agencies