Mass Drowning Of Migrants In The Mediterranean Described As Deadliest Shipwreck This Year
The United Nations refugee agency describes “the deadliest shipwreck in the Mediterranean so far this year”, in which up to 150 migrants and refugees are feared drowned attempting to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea into Europe after their boat capsized off Libya. It is reported that the vessel, which was possibly three boats lashed together, started to fill with water 90 minutes after setting out before the engine failed and the passengers began to drown. Libyan fishers in small boats took part in rescuing 134 survivors, who were returned to Libya by the coastguard.
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Previously the European Union provided the withdrawal of coordinated search-and-rescue operations, rescue operations in such incidents, including the recovery of bodies, now depend on the Libyan coastguard and local fishers and volunteers.
Although there is a decrease of 17% in the number of people crossing the Mediterranean and arriving in Europe in the first three months of 2019 compared with the same period of 2018, there are concerns that a greater proportion are drowning and being lost at sea as the people traffickers are cramming more people into unseaworthy boats to make the crossing in unsafe conditions.