ROME -Approximately 700 African migrants are feared dead, after their boat capsized at about 70 miles off the Libyan coast, according to UNHCR (United Nations High Commision for Refugees). The incident happened during the night from Saturday to Sunday, a distress call being launched during the night, Italian Coast Guard declared.
The vessel carrying more than 700 souls sank after it capsized because passengers moved on to one side of the vessel when a Portuguese merchant ship sent by Italians to help the migrants crossed by. The boat was a 20-meter-long overcrowded fishing boat.
Rescue teams managed to save twenty eight people, recovered 25 bodies and the search continues. It could be the worst disaster seen during a long period of migrants crisis in the Mediterranean, raising the number of dead people to more than 1500, since the beginning of this year. Italian Coast Guard sent about 17 ships, Italian fishing boats and private vessels, including some Maltese boats to the area to aid the rescue party.
Poverty and conflicts in the African territory and the Middle East drove people in great numbers to embark on this perilous journey. During last year, about 170.000 migrants arrived in Italy using this path, counting nearly 300.000 in all since the beginning of 2011.
The European Union is working to conceive a plan to support Italy in its efforts to confront the huge migrant stream.