700+ fleeing migrants missing or feared dead in Mediterranean shipwrecks, UN says
(CNN) – At least 65 migrants have died from shipwrecks in the Mediterranean Sea in the past week, and officials fear that number could soar above 700. Most of the victims were on three ill-fated boats.
About 100 people remain missing Sunday after a boat capsized Wednesday, said Federico Fossi, spokesman for the United Nations’ refugee agency. Five people died in that disaster, and more than 560 survived.
And on Friday, another migrant boat started taking in water. It’s not clear how many people were on board, but at least 135 people survived and at least 45 people died. Fossi said most of the migrants were from Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.
The deaths mark the latest wave of fatalities involving migrants boarding overcrowded boats in a desperate attempt to reach Europe.
At least 1,475 migrants have died so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. But that number could skyrocket if the roughly 650 missing are confirmed dead.
But the situation could have been much worse. More than 12,000 migrants were rescued from the Mediterranean in the past week, the Italian Navy, Coast Guard and Interior Ministry said.
Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) deployed two search-and-rescue boats, called the Dignity 1 and the Argos, in the Mediterranean.
The aid group said it helped save about 600 people off the Libyan coast. The Argos boat arrived in Trapani, Italy, on Sunday.
Despite the dangers, the flood of migrants probably won’t stop anytime soon.
In just the first five months of this year,more than 194,600 migrants have fled to Europe. That’s double the number of migrants who fled in the first five months of 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration.
And even if they survive the dangerous journey to Europe, many migrants face uncertain futures.