(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Dozens of migrants have died and more than 4,000 were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday in over 22 separate rescue operations, in an especially busy day on the Mediterranean Sea.
Up to 30 migrants died and 50 rescued after a wooden fishing boat overturned at sea by the Italian navy on Thursday.
“We estimate the dead to be between 20 and 30 people,” captain Antonello de Renzis Sonnino, spokesman for the EU’s Sophia military operation to combat people smugglers in the Mediterranean, told AFP.
“A Luxembourg reconnaissance plane spotted a capsized boat around 35 nautical miles off the Libyan coast with about 100 migrants in the water or clinging to the sinking vessel,” he said.
The Libyan coast guard also rescued 766 migrants off the Libyan coast on Thursday, according to Col. Ayoub Qassem who said that 550 migrants were rescued near the western coastal city of sabratha and 216 were rescued off Zwara.
Qassem also said that two other boats were found empty off the Libyan coast and that the navy did not know how many migrants the boats were carrying, however, he feared that those aboard both boats were feared dead, as the Libyan coast guard were only able to retrieve four bodies.
On Wednesday, seven migrants were initially reported to have died off the Libyan coast and more than 550 were rescued at sea, although there are now reports that up to a 100 migrants may have died in Wednesday’s tragic boat overturning.
The survivors from Wednesday’s shipwreck “spoke of 100 missing people who were stuck in the hull,” Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organisation of Migration in Italy, told AFP.
This week has seen a sharp rise in the number of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe as weather conditions improve, with the total number of migrants rescued in the past few days reaching over 7,000.