Around 250 African migrants are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean
after a charity's rescue boat found five corpses and two partially submerged
rubber dinghies off Libya, a spokeswoman said Thursday, 23rd March
2017. Laura Lanuza of
Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms said its boat Golfo Azzuro had recovered
the five dead bodies close to the dinghies, about 15 miles off the Libyan
"We don't think there can be any
other explanation than that these dinghies would have been full of
people," she told AFP. "It seems clear that they sunk."
She added that they would typically
have been carrying 120-140 migrants each. "In over a year we have never
seen any of these dinghies that were anything other than packed."
Lanuza said the bodies recovered were
African men with estimated ages of between 16 and 25.
They had drowned, apparently in the 24
hours prior to them being discovered shortly after dawn on Thursday in waters
directly north of the Libyan port of Sabrata.
Despite rough winter seas, migrant
departures from Libya on boats chartered by people traffickers have accelerated
in recent months from already-record levels.
Over 5,000 people have been picked up
by rescue boats since Sunday, bringing the number brought to Italy since the
start of 2017 to over 21,000, a rise of more than half compared to the same
period in previous years.