5 Aug 2015

‘Significant casualties’ feared as migrant boat capsizes

A boat carrying hundreds of people capsizes off the Libyan coast and there are reports of a “significant number of casualties”.

Up to 700 migrants are understood to have been packed on to the vessel when it overturned, around 25 miles from the coast, pitching passengers into the water.

Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said 250 had been rescued and 16 were dead.

However, Medecins Sans Frontieres, which has a vessel at the scene, said there had been “many deaths”.

“According to information currently available, there could have been up to 700 people on board at the time of the incident,” a spokesman said.

“MSF can confirm that there are many confirmed deaths at the scene but cannot provide additional information at the moment.”

The 20-metre capsized vessel reportedly left from the city of Zuwara in the north-west of Libya early on Wednesday morning.

It is unclear how the tragedy unfolded but it has been speculated that the capsize occurred when a rescue ship initially approached and migrants rushed to one side making it unstable.

The Italian coastguard is coordinating rescue efforts and the Irish Navy ship LE Niamh was sent to the scene at their request.

Additionally the MSF vessel, MV Dignity I, and a boat from the Migrant Offshore Aid Station are at the scene.

On Tuesday a grim new milestone was reached when the International Organisation for Migration released data showing 2,000 migrants had died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year.

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The shocking numbers behind the migrant crisis â?? 2,000 deaths trying to cross the Mediterranean and almost 200,000 rescued.Alex Thomson looks into just how many of those looking for a better life end up in Britain.

Posted by Channel 4 News on Wednesday, 5 August 2015