(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
A rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea reported that about 15 refugees died after a dinghy carrying around 100 people began to sink on Thursday.
According to Aris Messinis, a photographer for AFP, the dinghy departed Libya Wednesday afternoon, however, the vessel was facing 2.5 meter-high waves and a strong wind gusting at 50 kilometres an hour.
The AFP photographer was accompanying Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish humanitarian group, on their boat, the Astral.
It was not until 5pm that the vessel carrying the refugees was noticed by a reconnaissance drone, which was operated by Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), a Maltese humanitarian group.
The rescuers faced a challenging situation during their mission as the dinghy was still in Libyan waters.
“We said to the Libyan coast guard that we were entering no matter what because the boat was sinking, and they finally accepted,” Messinis said. However, MOAS would not confirm that its boat entered Libyan waters during the rescue mission.
By the time the rescue boats made it to the refugees the sun had already set. A total of 113 refugees were rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean, including 89 men, 11 women and 13 children.
MOAS said the rescued refugees mentioned that close to 130 people were on board the dinghy before it began to sink.
A mother who was in a disturbed state of mind said her three year-old son drowned, in addition to a young adult who lost five of his friends in the water and a family reported that one of their children also died along the way.
Due to the horrible travel conditions that the refugees had to endure during their journey across the Mediterranean, many of them had suffered from injuries caused by the combination of burns and salt water.
Women especially struggled during the journey because they would not take off articles clothing that were contaminated by fuel for reasons such as modesty or their faith.