Published: Sun, January 20, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pope Francis expresses sorrow after 170 feared dead in Mediterranean

Pope Francis expresses sorrow after 170 feared dead in Mediterranean

"After 10 to 11 hours at sea, the boat began deflating and started to sink".

Among the missing are 10 women and two children, including a two-month-old baby, Mr Di Giacomo said.

Some 117 migrants including at least two children who attempted to cross the Mediterranean this week are unaccounted for, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Saturday, a day after three people from the same dinghy were rescued.

One dinghy was spotted sinking in rough waters on Friday by an Italian military plane on patrol.

The Italian navy said it had alerted Libyan authorities who ordered a merchant ship to go to the site but the rescue effort was called off after the search proved fruitless.

Spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said three survivors told them 120 people were on board when it departed Garabulli in Libya.

He added that a third of the migrants on board were Sudanese and the others came from West African countries.

Three survivors were taken for treatment on Lampedusa, and reported that 117 people, who are now dead or missing, were on board with them when they departed from Libya.

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'During this operation at least three bodies were seen in the water who appeared to be dead, ' said Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini of the Italian navy.

It said the number of migrants and refugees landing on European shores had nearly doubled in the first 16 days of this year to 4,216 against 2,365 over the same period in 2018.

Pope Francis has expressed sorrow over the lost lives of 170 people feared drowned in recent days in the Mediterranean Sea.

Some 4,216 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea through the first 16 days of 2019, double the amount that did so over the same period a year ago, according to the IOM.

Despite the cold weather, migrants are continuing to arrive in Italy through the Mediterranean by boat.

After Italy's populist government took power in June 2018, the number of migrants reaching Italy after rescue at sea dropped off sharply, as anti-migrant Interior Minister Matteo Salvini refused to let humanitarian rescue vessels enter Italian ports.

'The tragedy of the Mediterranean can not be allowed to continue, ' said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

"We can not turn a blind eye to the high numbers of people dying on Europe's doorstep. With a European Union that neither wants to rescue nor cooperate, it is the few civilian rescuers doing their best in saving lives and defending human rights at sea", Kim Heaton-Heather, Head of Operations on Sea-Watch said.

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