Dozens of migrants missing after boat en route from Libya capsizes - charities

Several dozen people are missing, feared dead, in the central Mediterranean after the boat in which they were travelling from Libya capsized in bad weather, two rescue charities said on Sunday.

The Mediterranea Saving Humans charity tweeted that according to several sources, the vessel, travelling in the direction of Italy, had capsized this morning about 110 miles north-west of Benghazi.

Alarm Phone, another charity which picks up calls from migrant vessels in distress, said on Twitter it had first alerted authorities on Saturday, emphasising the boat, which was carrying 47 people, needed immediate rescue.

"We are in shock. According to different sources, dozens of people from this boat in distress have drowned," it said on Twitter.

There was no immediate official comment from Italy about the fate of the boat.

According to Mediterranea, Italian authorities had requested merchant vessels in the area to intervene. However, it said they did not carry out a rescue operation once they reached the area.

Mediterranea's head of mission Luca Casarini told Reuters that four merchant vessels were still in the area.

Italy's capabilities to rescue migrants at sea have come under scrutiny following a Feb. 26 shipwreck near the southern region of Calabria, in which at least 79 died.

On Saturday the coastguard said that more than 1,300 migrants had been rescued in three separate operations off the southern tip of Italy, with a further 200 saved off Sicily.

Source(s): Reuters

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