Leaving behind 41 survivors, a shipwreck left a casualty count of 500 according to a report by the United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR).

According to the survivors, most of the passengers were part of a first vessel that had at least 100 people. The ship sailed from Tobruk, Libya. Eventually, the passengers were passed onto a larger boat which was already loaded with 200-some immigrants, which caused the boat to sink.

At least 500 migrants drowned after a shipwreck in the Mediterranean between Lybia and Italy. Credit: Mywebmemo.com

A disaster within a crisis

The sinking occurred between Italy and Libya. Half of the people that survived came from Somalia, others are natives of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The survivor count is of 37 men, a 3-year old child, and three women. The survivors were interviewed in order to determine an estimated amount of possible casualties. The survivors were settled in a migrant camp located in the Greek city of Kalamata. The sunken boat has not been found.

“I saw my wife and my 2-month old child die at sea, together with my brother-in-law. All the people died in a matter of minutes,” stated an Ethiopian migrant who survived the sinking.

The survivors managed to sail on for 3 days without supplies or food to Greek shores, although they were trying to get to Italy. According to the interviews, the survivors are among those that did not yet board the larger boat and those that could swim back to the first boat.

Last Monday, the government of Somalia stated that around 300 Somalis have drowned somewhere in the Mediterranean, but this information is not acknowledged nor confirmed by European authorities. Activist Muhammad Al Kashef commented on that same day that “an unspecified number of people have drowned somewhere near Greece having left from Egypt,” acknowledging that there is a true problem when it comes to documenting this type of events.

The estimated death toll of migrants crossing Mediterranean waters has reached 800 this past year while almost 180,000 have managed to reach European shores. The UNHCR has called for more and better ways for refugees to migrate into Europe, as most of them seek political asylum due to the ongoing war and political oppression in their countries of origin. The UNHCR has also reinstated the need of providing resettlement, family reunification, and student and work visas for refugees. There has not been further specific information regarding the events, as the survivors are still very shaken by the whole experience, according to UNHCR officials.

Source: NY Times