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41 migrants die in Mediterranean shipwreck tragedy

A woman cries after losing her baby in a shipwreck off Italy. (Photo by Getty Images)

At least 41 migrants have died in a shipwreck off the Italian island of Lampedusa, after a small boat which had set off from Sfax in Tunisia capsized and sank in the Strait of Sicily. 

Four people who survived the shipwreck told rescuers that they were on a boat that had set off from Sfax in Tunisia and sank on its way to Italy.

The survivors, three men and a woman, said that they were on a boat carrying 45 people, including three children.

This group of four survivors from the Ivory Coast and Guinea reached Lampedusa on Wednesday.

The surviving migrants told the Red Cross that they were wearing life jackets that helped them crawl on the remnants of another shipwrecked boat.

According to the survivors, the 7m (20ft) long boat, left Sfax on Thursday last week, but sank within hours after being hit by a big wave.

According to eye witnesses only about 15 people are said to have been wearing life vests on the capsized boat.

The survivors were rescued by a private vessel and then transferred to an Italian coast guard vessel.

The Italian coast guard reported two shipwrecks in the area on Sunday, but it is not clear whether this vessel is one of those.

Doctors Without Borders rescued migrants near Lampedusa on 7 August (Photo by RTÉ)

More than 1,800 people have lost their lives so far this year in the crossing from North Africa to Europe.

Tunisian authorities say, Sfax, a port city about 80 miles (130km) from Lampedusa, is a popular gateway for migrants to enter Europe.

Italy's far-right government doesn’t allow rescue ships to dock at Lampedusa or Sicily. The boats are forced to disembark rescued migrants at ports far away.

The government has been justifying its move by saying that it doesn’t want the migrants to concentrate in specific regions, but spread throughout the country.

However, many human rights organizations have regarded the policy cruel as it reduces the amount of time that can be used to patrol areas where shipwrecks commonly occur.

It is important to note that the EU signed a $118 million deal with Tunisia last month to curb migration. It was said that the money will be spent on strengthening the efforts to stop smuggling and returning migrants.

According to the International Organization for Migration, since the beginning of the year, at least 2,387 people have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean while trying to reach European shores.

As per the United Nations, since 2014, more than 17,000 people have died and disappeared in the central Mediterranean, the deadliest migrant crossing in the world.




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