Hundreds of people are feared to have drowned after a boat carrying up to 700 migrants capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian coastguard says. BBC reports:
A major rescue operation is under way after the vessel carrying “between 500 and 700 migrants” capsized at midnight local time, in Libyan waters south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. So far 28 people have been rescued.
Since the start of the year, at least 900 other migrants are thought to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea. In the past week alone, Italy’s coastguard rescued 10,000 migrants whose vessels ran into trouble.
Italian ships, the Maltese Navy and commercial vessels are all involved in the rescue operation, 130 miles (210km) off the coast of Lampedusa and 17 miles (27km) from the Libyan coast. Twenty-four bodies have been recovered.
The Italian coastguard’s spokesman told the BBC the operation was still focused on search and rescue, “but in time it will be a search [for bodies] only”. Twenty ships and three helicopters were currently involved in the rescue, he added.