Sunday, 28 July 2013

Many Nigerians Confirmed Dead As Migrant Boat Capsized Off Libya Coast

Thirty-one people drowned in the accident that occurred late Friday, and the rest were rescued by a freighter and brought on Sunday to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, Ansa reported, citing the survivors.

Most of the migrants came from Nigeria, Gambia, Benin and Senegal, and the survivors were suffering from shock and hypothermia.

Italian authorities say more than 470 migrants have reached Italy in a 24-hour period.

Italian TV on Sunday showed a wrecked motorised rubber dinghy that the Africans told authorities had capsized after setting off from Libya's coast.

Each year, thousands of migrants pay smugglers in hope of slipping ashore in Italy. Many attempt the Mediterranean crossing during periods of calm warm seas, as in recent days.

Media reports said the camp where the migrants are housed on Lampedusa, which lies between Tunisia and Sicily, is overcrowded with 1000 people staying there although the camp has space for only 350 people.

Under international law, Italian authorities have to check whether people they rescue at sea have grounds to seek asylum. If not, they repatriate them although the border police struggles to enforce the policy strictly.

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