Death toll in migrant-boat disaster climbs to 17

Around 200 feared dead

13 May, 11:24

    (ANSAmed) - Catania, May 13 - The Coast Guard said Tuesday that so far 17 bodies have been recovered after a migrant boat thought to be carrying some 400 people sank south of Italy on Monday. It is feared around 200 people may have died in the disaster. The Italian authorities have rescued 206 people. The survivors are on their way to the Sicilian port of Catania.

    The wreck follows a similar sinking off the coast of Libya on Sunday, in which as many as 40 European-bound migrants died. Monday's sinking occurred around 40 miles from the coast of Libya, near an offshore oil derrick.

    In a program called Mare Nostrum (Our Sea), Italy has ramped up search-and-rescue missions around its sea boarders since last October when two wrecks off the coast of Sicily killed roughly 400 migrants. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Monday that the European Union isn't "helping" Italy sufficiently to cope with its migrant crisis.

    "Our ships were there to recover the dead and rescue survivors," he said in Bologna.

    "Europe is not helping us. It lets us accommodate the survivors", said Alfano, who has warned Rome may give migrants freedom to roam to other parts of Europe if it does not receive more help.

    The interior ministry said earlier this month that 800,000 asylum seekers were "poised" to set off for Europe from North Africa.

    Well over 20,000 have arrived so far this year. Most of them are from sub-Saharan Africa including war-torn countries like South Sudan, while an increasing number are from Syria and the Palestinian Territories. (ANSAmed).

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