Migrants die in overcrowded boat off Libyan coast

A woman cries after being rescued by aid workers from Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms in the Mediterranean off Libya’s coast. Credit: Santi Palacios/AP.

TMP – 18/08/2017
Rescuers have reported that they have found the bodies of 13 migrants, including two pregnant women, in a rubber boat drifting off the coast of Libya.
“Thirteen corpses in total. People who had names, surnames, mothers, fathers, friends, and lives,” said Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms in a statement.

It is believed that the migrants perished just 24 hours after the rubber dinghy carrying at least 181 people set off from Libya bound for Europe. Eight of the dead were women, two of whom were pregnant.

Proactiva’s medical team said they thought the migrants died after slumping to the floor because of seasickness. They may have suffocated after inhaling toxic fumes created when fuel from the boat mixed with salt water.

“They didn’t die by drowning outside the boat, but drowning inside the boat,” Proactiva Open Arms mission leader Riccardo Gatti said.

Six young children, the eldest of whom was five years old, were rescued.

Two of the women rescued told medical staff that they were sexually abused several times and “completely beaten” before leaving from Libya. Proactiva reported that bruises on some of the women indicated that they may have been raped.

According to United Nations data, so far more than 2,400 people have died in the Mediterranean while attempting to make it to Europe this year.