Three separate shipwrecks in the Mediterranean south of Italy in recent days are thought to have claimed the lives of more than 700 people, officials from the UN’s refugee agency said.
The information appeared first on the Twitter of spokeswoman at UNHCR South Europe, Carlotta Sami.
“Sunday counting victims. Macabre exercise: will the world realize the over 700 people should have deserved a safe passage?”she wrote.
She later told AP by phone that about 100 migrants went missing after a smuggler’s boat capsized on Wednesday.
One of the deadliest accidents took place on Thursday. At least 550 asylum seekers went missing. The boat, carrying about 670 people, left the Libyan port of Sabratha a day earlier and had no engine. It was towed by another smuggling boat, Sami added.
At least 104 people managed to survive: 25 reached another boat and 79 were rescued by international patrol boats. At least 15 bodies of migrants were recovered.
In yet another accident on Friday, rescuers saved 135 people, according to Sami. Some 45 bodies were recovered. The exact amount of people on board is as yet unclear.
The survivors were transported to the Italian ports of Taranto and Pozzallo, Sami said, adding that the UN is planning to speak with them and gather information about the sunken boats.
UNHCR spokesman Federico Fossi confirmed the report.
“The situation is chaotic, we cannot be sure of the numbers, but we fear up to 700 people may have drowned in three shipwrecks this week,” he told AFP.
According to Doctors Without Borders, about 900 people might have drowned in the Mediterranean.
“We see many victims of violence and torture among the people we rescue on our boats. Europe provide safe passage [to refugees],” the group said.
The number of refugees trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean is increasing rapidly. According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration Refugee Agency (IOM), an estimated 190,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean in 2016.
Of them, nearly 156,000 came to Greece and 34,000 to Italy, with 1,375 people considered missing or dead.