Pregnant Women Among 12 Dead in Latest Tragedy Off Libya

Two pregnant women were among 12 migrants who lost their lives some 65 kilometres off Libya on Thursday.

©Jason Florio-MOAS.eu-1387-2

A stock photo of an eerie dinghy found abandoned in the Sicilian Strait. Photo: MOAS.EU/Jason Florio

The survivors, 94 people, mostly from Gambia, Nigeria and Mali, were brought to the port of Palermo, Sicily on Saturday morning by the Italian navy vessel Dattilo, which over the past few days were engaged in the rescue of 717 migrants in four separate operations.

One of the women who died, a Nigerian, left behind her husband and two-year-old boy, who survived and are now safe in Palermo.

Father and son after being rescued from a sinking dinghy 64 kilometres off Libya. Photo: Flavio Di Giacomo

Father and son after being rescued from a sinking dinghy 64 kilometres off Libya. Photo: Flavio Di Giacomo

The sinking dinghy carrying 106 migrants left from Zuwara on Wednesday according to survivors but barely six hours into the journey, the front part started deflating taking in water.

Some clung to the parts that were still afloat but 12 did not make it.

IOM’s Italy spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo, who was in Palermo during the disembarkation, said two Morrocans in their 20s who survived, said had bought lifejackets for the journey.

They felt they had to leave Libya as it had become to dangerous for them, both reported paying LYD800 (€500), significantly less than the reported  LYD1,000 – LYD2,000 normally reported.

The tragedy comes in the same week as 19 are feared dead after their boat sank on the way to Greece from Turkey, making the deadliest week in the Mediterranean since April.

After the April 18 tragedy, Europe launched the biggest search and rescue operation ever seen in the Mediterranean since migrants first started to cross on boats in the early 2000s. Up to then some an estimated 1,780 people were recorded to have lost their lives in the Mediterranean.

But though the rate has dropped dramatically, migrants are still losing their lives in the perilous journey and IOM now estimates the number of dead to stand at around 1,900.

The past few days have been particularly busy. The Italian coastguard reported the rescue of almost 1,800 people until Friday, while the Greek authorities said some 740 people were picked up in the Aegean sea in some 17 operations in the 24 hours prior to Friday morning.

The Hellenic Coast Guard estimates that some 900 migrants are making the crossing every day.