Seven migrants perish in bid to reach sanctuary of Europe

Fatalities in Mediterranean off Libyan coast while trying to make hazardous crossing

Migrants in a rubber dinghy hang on to ropes beneath the bow of the Panama-registered ship Tuna 1. Photograph:  Reuters

Migrants in a rubber dinghy hang on to ropes beneath the bow of the Panama-registered ship Tuna 1. Photograph: Reuters

 

Seven migrants died in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya while trying to reach Europe on Sunday, an official of a rescue ship has said.

An earlier report had indicated a figure of 20 had perished but Chris Catrambone, co-founder of the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station said “the discrepancy was due to confusion” in communication between two ships involved in the rescue operation.

Rescue ships took on thousands of survivors from dinghies in deteriorating weather between Friday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, a total of 125 migrants trying to make night-time crossings from Africa to Spain have been rescued.

Three small boats carrying the migrants were located before daybreak on Saturday.

The first vessel, carrying 41 men and 11 women of sub-Saharan origin, was located by rescue teams shortly after midnight in the Alboran Sea east of the Strait of Gibraltar. The Red Cross said all were in good health.

Rescue

A second group of 62 north African males, including 11 minors, was packed into a wooden boat when it was rescued just west of the Strait in the Atlantic Ocean.

Eleven more migrants of unknown origin were pulled from a small vessel in the Mediterranean Sea after a Nato aircraft alerted the Spanish maritime rescue service.

Tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan African countries, try to reach the shores of Spain and Italy by boat each year.

Between Thursday and Friday, 73 migrants were rescued from five boats by Spanish ships.

On Wednesday, a 10-year-old girl and two adults died when their boat capsized while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Spain.