10 migrants die in Libya-Italy crossing
Six Somalis and four Eritreans drowned during a Mediterranean crossing from Libya to Italy, according to some of the 48 survivors on a boat that arrived on the island of Lampedusa said today.
The refugees, who were rescued by the Italian coast guard after their boat began drifting in stormy weather, said the victims fell off during the journey.
The incident happened shortly after they left a port near the Libyan border with Tunisia in the night between Friday and Saturday, Italian media reported.
Among the 48 survivors, there were 12 women, three of them pregnant.
They managed to alert the coast guard via fellow refugees in Italy by satellite phone and have now been taken to Porto Empedocle in Sicily.
It is understood that the AFM coordinated the search.
Five people were found dead last month on a seven-metre dinghy from Libya carrying 56 surviving refugees that was rescued off Lampedusa. A boat carrying 200 refugees from sub-Saharan Africa was aided the same day.
Last year a total of 48,000 Tunisians fleeing the post-revolutionary economic turmoil and African migrant workers escaping the conflict in Libya arrived in Italy, often paying hundreds of euros for the journey.
Most of them arrived on Lampedusa, a rocky 20-square-kilometre outcrop that is closer to North Africa than to the Italian mainland and has become the main entry point for illegal immigration into the European Union.
Italian authorities have warned that a new wave of migration may now be starting following a lull during the winter with more favourable springtime weather conditions and continuing upheaval in the Mediterranean region.
The European Court of Human Rights last month sanctioned Italy for sending back asylum seekers under a controversial and now defunct deal between former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi.