Survivors head to Sicily after new shipwreck ‘horror’
Survivors of a shipwreck off the coast of Libya in which some 200 migrants were feared drowned were being brought to safety in Sicily on Thursday, as tales emerged of the “horrific” moment the boat overturned.
Their fishing boat, believed to have been carrying more than 600 people, ran into difficulty about 15 nautical miles off Libya on Wednesday and overturned when rescuers neared, after frantic migrants rushed to one side in their desperation to be saved.
Irish patrol vessel Niamh, first on the scene of the disaster, was headed to Palermo with 367 survivors, including 12 women and 13 children, as well as 25 bodies recovered from the sea.
The Italian coastguard told AFP the search for remaining survivors “continued throughout the night and will be carried out all day today.”
“It was a horrific sight, people desperately clinging to lifebelts, boats and anything they could, fighting for their lives, amidst people drowning, and those who had already died,” said Juan Matias, a project coordinator for Doctors Without Borders ( MSF).
The MSF boat Dignity One was the second vessel on the scene and helped rescue panicking children and adults from the water. It was delayed, however, by being diverted en route to help another boat in trouble with 94 people aboard.
‘ Severe lack of resources’
“The fact that we were first called to assist this boat and then shortly afterwards sent to another one highlights the severe lack of resources available for rescue operations,” Matias said.
Italy’s coast guard on Thursday said it had saved 381 migrants on another boat, which then sank 30 nautical miles off the Libyan coast.
The MSF comments were echoed by the deputy director of the European Borders Agency Frontex, Gil Arias- Fernandez, who told El Mundo daily that there was a shortage of resources to prevent disasters, because countries were reluctant to lend equipment.
“We have t he necessary money but we don’t have the ships, planes and border guards in which to invest the money. We are not getting an adequate response from the European members to meet our needs,” he said.