30 migrants missing, 17 rescued in shipwreck off Libya

TEHRAN, Mar. 13 (MNA) – Thirty people are missing and 17 were rescued in the central Mediterranean on Sunday after the boat in which they were travelling from Libya capsized in bad weather, Italy's coastguard said.

Alarm Phone, a charity that picks up calls from migrant vessels in distress, assumed the 30 people were dead and blamed Italy for not sending its coastguard despite being repeatedly alerted on Saturday that the boat was in trouble, Reuters reported. 

"Clearly, the Italian authorities were trying to avoid that the people would be brought to Italy, delaying intervention so that the so-called Libyan coastguard would arrive and forcibly return people to Libya," it said in a statement late on Sunday.

However, Italy's coastguard said the capsizing occurred outside the Italian Search and Rescue area (SAR), and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said Rome was doing all it could to avoid shipwrecks.

"We have always argued that it's necessary to stop the departures of unseaworthy vessels," he told Il Messaggero daily on Monday.

"It seems to me that everything that our coastguard, our navy and our finance police are doing is to be praised," he said, adding that Rome and the European Commission were supplying Libya with more patrol boats.

Rescue operations were ongoing late on Sunday, supported by merchant ships and aerial support by the EU's border agency Frontex, while two further merchant vessels were en route to the area, the coastguard said in a statement.

The tragedy comes just weeks after a Feb. 26 shipwreck near the southern region of Calabria, in which at least 79 died. Survivors claimed that up to 150 people from Somalia, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan were on board the vessel, thought to have left Turkey four days ago. Some media reports put the figure at 200. An Italian media outlet reported that a Turkish national has been detained on suspicion of human trafficking.


News Code 198468


Your Comment

You are replying to: .
  • captcha