Friday, April 22, 2016

Survivor Tells of Mediterranean Sea Disaster That May Have Killed 500 Migrants - The New York Times

Survivor Tells of Mediterranean Sea Disaster That May Have Killed 500 Migrants - The New York Times: "Two migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia recalled a shipwreck in the Mediterranean last week that they survived, though hundreds of others from the boat may have died. By REUTERS on Publish Date April 21, 2016. Photo by Nikitas Kotsiaris/European Pressphoto Agency. Watch in Times Video »
Muaz Mahmud’s wife and 2-month-old son barely had time to scream as the cold waters of the Mediterranean surged over their heads.

Minutes earlier, they had been forced by smugglers to abandon the boat they had chartered in Libya last week for a larger boat already packed with 300 migrants heading toward Italy.

As the bigger boat took on more passengers, it began to list, Mr. Mahmud said Thursday. When it capsized, hundreds of panicked people — many of whom could not swim — were thrown into the sea.

Mr. Mahmud and another survivor of last week’s shipwreck recounted grim details of the sinking, in which 500 passengers may have died, making it the deadliest episode for asylum seekers trying to reach Europe since more than 800 drowned last April in a boat trying to reach Italy.

At a news conference in Athens, the men described how smugglers had promised to help them flee poverty and conflict in Africa for the safety of Europe, only to install them in floating death traps and abandon them when the journey became too dangerous.

The authorities in the region have not yet verified the disaster, and no national coast guards have located the sunken boat. But the latest tragedy, if confirmed, would bring the number of migrants who have died on the Mediterranean between North Africa and Europe this year to nearly 800, the International Organization for Migration said."

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