The overcrowded vessel turned over in the Mediterranean today as its migrant passengers desperately tried to reach Europe from war-torn Libya
Horrific pics of more than 550 refugees clinging on to a capsizing boat for their dear lives today will fuel debate over the migrant crisis.
The overcrowded wooden fishing boat turned over off the coast of Libya today as its passengers desperately tried to reach Europe – and the rescue mission is ongoing.
The Italian navy said that while around 500 people have been rescued so far, seven bodies have also been recovered – and there are fears the death toll will rise further.
It brings to more than 6,000 people rescued in total so far this WEEK. Numbers are expected to rocket further as the weather improves and seas calm.
The Italian navy’s patrol boat Bettica was first to spot the vessel was getting into difficulty and was nearing it when it flipped over.
It had been approaching it to hand out life jackets, but before it could begin a rescue the boat turned over due to the sudden movement of the passengers, a statement said.
Photographs show the blue fishing boat rocking violently before capsizing, sending hundreds of migrants tumbling into the sea. Several rubber motor boats can also be seen being used in the rescue operation.
Bettica launched lifeboats and life jackets, while the frigate Bergamini, which is also in the area, has reportedly also sent a helicopter and boats to assist in the rescue.
Some migrants then climbed onto the hull of the overturned vessel, while others swam for lifeboats or toward the navy ship.
Navy swimmers are also shown pulling migrants in lifebelts toward the Bettica.
Women wearing head scarves and children were among those rescued, but no details of the migrants’ nationalities have yet been given.
Boat arrivals rose sharply this week amid warm weather and calm seas.
Italy’s coastguard said 5,600 migrants were rescued on Monday and Tuesday, and officials fear numbers will increase as conditions continue to improve.
In the past two years, more than 320,000 boat migrants have arrived on Italian shores and an estimated 7,000 died in the Mediterranean as they sought to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration.
TH PASHTUN TIMES