CAIRO – A boat carrying dozens of migrants to Europe capsized in the Mediterranean off Libya and at least 45 people drowned or were missing and believed to be dead, the United Nations said on Wednesday
The capsize, which caused the largest number of deaths in a single shipwreck off the coast of the North African country that year, occurred on Monday when the engine exploded, UN officials said. The boat, which was carrying at least 82 migrants, then capsized.
37 survivors, mainly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were rescued by local fishermen and later arrested ashore by Libyan officials. Declaration by the International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency.
The survivors reported that 45 people, including five children, drowned off the coast of the western city of Zuwara.
Alarm Phone, an independent support group for migrants crossing the Mediterranean, said it received a call Saturday from someone on a migrant ship who "panicked and yelled" that passengers were about to approach to die.
The migrants, including five women, two of whom were pregnant, said the boat engine had stopped working and they had no food or water, the group said. Alarm Phone said it had alerted the Libyan, Maltese, Italian and Tunisian authorities and provided them with relevant details about the boat.
It was not immediately clear that this was the same ship that capsized off Zuwara.
Alarm Phone said the last contact with the boat was late Saturday.
"We urge states to react quickly to these incidents," said the UN agencies. “Delays and a lack of support identified in recent months are unacceptable and life threatening.”
The shipwreck was the latest maritime disaster involving migrants seeking a better life in Europe. In June, a dozen people were missing and feared they drowned outside the coastal town of Zawiya, about 30 miles west of the capital Tripoli.