Fifty refugees feared missing after boat sinks off Libya

As much as 50 refugees missing in Mediterranean as Italian coastguard rescues almost 200 between Italy and Libya

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A local (L) gestures to Syrian refugees on a dinghy approaching the shores of the Greek island of Lesbos, September 4, 2015.

Up to 50 refugees are feared missing after the boat they were travelling in sank off the coast of Libya on Friday, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Meanwhile, Italian authorities said they rescued 91 out of 115 people from the Mediterranean when the rubber boat they were travelling in deflated. Rescue efforts to find survivors are continuing.

A further 105 refugees were rescued from another ship spotted by the Italian coastguard nearby.

One of the passengers was reportedly a heavily pregnant woman, who gave birth shortly after being taken to hospital on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Joel Millman, said that so far this year 2,701 people had died trying to cross the choppy waters of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

The spokesman added that some 364,000 people had succeeded in crossing the sea. An estimated 234,778 people have made it to Greece and 114,276 people made it to Italy, while 2,166 debarked in Spain and 94 arrived in Malta.

As many as 107,500 refugees have made it across the sea in the month of July alone.

The enormous number of refugees who have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea far exceeds last year's number, which was 219,000 for the entire year of 2014.

EU member states agreed last month to accept 32,000 refugees arriving in Italy and Greece over the next two years, while the target was originally 40,000.


TRTWorld and agencies