SOLYMONE BLOG

MIGRANT BOAT SINKS OFF ITALY KILLING 94

At least 94 people have died and scores are missing after a boat carrying African migrants, mostly from Eritrea, sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. 
The mayor of Lampedusa, Giusy Nicolini, said the death toll from the sinking on Thursday was expected to rise. "It's horrific, like a cemetery, they are still bringing them out," she said. 
More than 150 people were rescued but about 200 others were still unaccounted for, according to the Associated Press. 
Al Jazeera's Sonia Gallego, reporting from Rome, said the boat was carrying about 500 migrants from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana. It appears that there was a malfunction on board and the migrants were believed to have created a small fire on board to attract the attention of the coastguard. 
What we can gauge from what the survivors have been saying is that the fire caused panic on board, which caused the boat to flip over, said Sonia. 
Four coastguard and police vessels and two helicopters were in the area of the accident. A submerged vessel of about 20m in length had been identified in the water after it caught fire and sank, officials said. 
The boat is believed to have set off from in Libya on Tuesday. A fishing boat raised the alarm at around 7:20am on Thursday (05:20GMT) and began pulling people out of the water before coastguard vessels arrived. 
It is believed the ship caught fire after those on board set off flares to alert passing ships. It then capsized. Thousands of migrants from Africa arrive in Italy on unsafe, overcrowded vessels every year, with most coming to Lampedusa, a tiny island just 113 kilometres from the coast of Tunisia.

Source: Al Jazeera, Agencies


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