Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mediterranean migrant boat tragedy: Death toll could rise to 950

Mediterranean migrant boat tragedy: Death toll could rise to 950

The Telegraph | April 19, 2015

The death toll for the worst ever migrant disaster in the Mediterranean could be as high as 950, as Europe asks how to handle the growing scale of tragedy.

The light on the horizon was supposed to signal salvation. A Portuguese cargo ship, on its way to Libya, had been dispatched to rescue a boat full of migrants, floundering 100 miles south of Lampedusa. In the dark, it changed course to assist the hundreds on board.

But the well-intentioned rescue did not go as planned.

On seeing the light, just before midnight on Saturday, the migrants surged to one side of the 66ft fishing vessel. Unbalanced, it capsized. And, in what is thought to be the worst migrant tragedy in the Mediterranean, 700 lives were lost.

Some reports put the toll even higher. Italy’s Ansa news agency quoted one survivor as saying there were 950 on board the boat when it sank.

“They are literally trying to find people alive among the dead floating in the water,” said Joseph Muscat, the prime minister of Malta – a country that has been the first port of call for many of the 35,000 migrants who have arrived in southern Europe this year. “Children, men, and women have died.”