Around 200 Somalis may have drowned in Mediterranean Sea

Somalia’s government says 200 of country's citizens may have died after boat crossing Mediterranean capsized

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Migrants call for help from a sinking dinghy off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday.

Somalia’s government has said 200 or more Somalians may have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after leaving the Egyptian coast to try to reach Europe.  

"We have no fixed number but it is between 200 and 300 Somalis," Somali Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir said.

Following that, Somalia’s government said in a statement which offered condolences that nearly 200 people have died after their boat capsized after leaving Egypt.

"There is no clear number since they are not travelling legally," the minister said, adding that nearly 200 to 300 people from the around 460 refugees and migrants on board were Somalis "and most of them had died."

No precise time has been given for when the accident occurred.  

Aproximately 40 people have been rescued so far, according to a UN refugee agency official who spoke to Swiss broadcaster SRF.

"We know there are 40 survivors and that as many as 460 people may have been on the boat who sailed from Egypt," the UNHCR's Beat Schuler told the broadcaster.

In an article on the Somali National News Agency (SONNA) website, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud on Monday "sent his heartfelt condolence on his behalf and on behalf of the citizens of Somalia to the families who lost their loved ones."

In his words he also called unity to Somalis not to undertake such a dangerous journey.

More than 1.2 million African, Arab and Asian migrants have swept into the European Union since the start of last year - most of them were from North Africa taking a risk to travel in choppy seas.

TRTWorld, Reuters