New survivor account emerges in Mediterranean migrant ship accident
A new unconfirmed survivor account has emerged regarding the recent ship accident in the Mediterranean Sea, raising the number of the illegal migrants to 950 believed to have been on board the vessel when it capsized.
An Italian prosecutor said on Sunday that an unidentified Bangladeshi survivor claimed that 950 migrants, and not 700 – as previously estimated – were on board the vessel when it capsized on April 16.
The survivor, who was at a hospital in the Italian city of Catania, said about 200 women and dozens of children were among the passengers and some 300 people were in the hold of the fishing vessel when it overturned, prosecutor Giovanni Salvi said.
Earlier, officials said a survivor had told them 700 migrants had been on board.
Only 28 people survived the incident, and 24 bodies have so far been pulled from the water, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Sunday.
The ship capsized about 60 miles (96 kilometers) off the Libyan coast and 120 miles (193 kilometers) south of the Italian island of Lampedusa on its way to Europe. The survivors were rescued after a helicopter saw them floating in the sea.
Humanitarian organizations say there has been a recent surge in the number of the immigrants making the deadly journey across the Mediterranean Sea from different routes into the European Union (EU) as weather and sea conditions improve with the coming of spring.
About 170,000 migrants entered the EU through Italy last year, with most of them departing from Libya, according to latest reports.
At least 3,419 illegal migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea last year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Most of the migrants set off from crisis-hit countries such as Syria, Iraq and Libya in an attempt to reach Italy or Malta.