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Up to 70 drown in Mediterranean crossing

17 May 2019

Up to 70 migrants and refugees are feared to have drowned when their boat capsized while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya into European waters. A Tunisian fishing boat rescued around 16 survivors after the vessel capsized in strong waves 40 miles off the coast of Tunisia; they were transferred to a Tunisian coastguard vessel.

In another incident, a charity rescue ship picked up 30 survivors and transferred them to the Italian island of Lampedusa. In line with current Italian government policy, the authorities seized the ship and the captain is being investigated for aiding illegal immigration.

Although fewer people are now attempting the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean, with numbers down by about 30 percent to 17,000 migrants and refugees in 2019 to date, the International Organization for Migration say that proportionately more people are now dying in the attempt - 443 people since 1 January compared with 620 in the same period in 2018.

Figures from the Institute for International Political Studies indicate that one person died for every eight people who left Libya between January and April.


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