Migrant boat capsizes with 30 feared dead in Mediterranean horror

Thirty migrants are feared dead after a boat carrying 47 people capsized in the sea. The Italian Government has come under heavy fire for allegedly delaying rescue operations and letting thirty people die after a boat capsized in the central Mediterranean in a move that has sparked “shock” and condemnation among human-rights charities. Two rescue organisations reported the boat bound for Italy from Libya capsized about 110 miles (180km) north-west of Benghazi amid bad weather on Sunday.

The organisation Alert Phone, which answers calls from ships in trouble, noted on Twitter that it had first notified authorities of the boat’s situation on Saturday and stressed the need for an emergency rescue as the boat was carrying 47 people.

They group tweeted: “We are in shock. According to different sources, dozens of people from this boat in distress have drowned.”

The ship, which was headed for Italy, capsized on Sunday morning around 110 miles (180 km) north-west of Benghazi, the Mediterranea Saving Humanity Charity said on Twitter.

Alarm Phone condemned the Italian Government in the strongest terms, tweeting: “We are in shock. The Italian authorities knowingly delayed rescue and let them die.”

It added: “After the shipwreck with many deaths, we worry that survivors — who watched their friends dying before being rescued by a merchant vessel — will be forced to #Libya or #Tunisia where inhuman conditions await. We demand that all survivors are brought to a safe place in Europe!”

Sea-Watch International, a German non-government organisation, reported that Italy’s maritime rescue and search teams hung up on them when they asked who was taking coordination and responsibility for the people.

Alarm Phone said that it is asking the Italian government why it did not send adequate rescue assets to the distressed boat on Sunday.

“This delay, one of the many systematic delays Alarm Phone has documented over the years, proved to be deadly,” it said in a statement, accusing the Italian government of failing to intervene in order to prevent the migrants from reaching its shores.

According to Italy’s coast guard, 30 people went missing and 17 were rescued.

The European Union’s border agency Frontex provided aircraft help for the rescue efforts, and two more merchant ships were headed to the area, the coast guard said in a statement on Sunday.

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This latest incident is the latest tragedy to afflict migrants attempting the hazardous crossing after a shipwreck near the southern region of Calabria saw the deaths of at least 79 people in late February.

The coastguard reported on Saturday that more than 1,300 migrants and refugees had been saved, with another 200 being saved off Sicily, in three different operations off the southern tip of Italy.

Tommaso Foti of the right-wing populist Brothers of Italy party told Italian television the Italian secret services had estimated that 685,000 migrants, many in detention camps, were planning to use people smugglers to cross the sea.

In 2022, some 105,000 migrants reached Italy by sea.

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