A boat with around 700 migrants abroad capsized in the Mediterranean. According to the Maltese authorities only around 50 people have been rescued and the rest 650 are missing.
According to UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) this could be the largest loss of life from any incident on the Mediterranean involving refugees and migrants.
The latest information show that the boat overturned shortly before midnight on Saturday, in Libyan waters, some 180 kilometers south of Italy’s Lampedusa.
Italian authorities informed that approximately 20 vessels and several helicopters are involved in the rescue operation.
“This disaster confirms how urgent it is to restore a robust rescue-at-sea operation and establish credible legal avenues to reach Europe. Otherwise people seeking safety will continue to perish at sea,” said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “But it also points to the need for a comprehensive European approach to address the root causes that drive so many people to this tragic end. I hope the EU will rise to the occasion, fully assuming a decisive role to prevent future such tragedies.”
So far in 2015, more than 35,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived by boat in southern Europe and – if this toll is confirmed – some 1600 have died. In 2014, around 219,000 people crossed the Mediterranean, and 3,500 lives were lost, UNHCR informed.