41 migrants feared dead in latest Mediterranean shipwreck

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Over 41 migrants are feared dead in the latest shipwreck on the treacherous route across the central Mediterranean, it emerged this week.

The deaths were reported by four survivors of the tragedy who were brought to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Wednesday.

According to media reports, the four survivors were rescued by the Rimona, a Maltese cargo ship. The victims were taken to the Italian coast guard, which brought them to Lampedusa for treatment on Wednesday.

The survivors said the boat carrying 45 would-be asylum seekers left Tunisia for Lampedusa last Thursday.

It appears the vessel capsized either late Thursday or early Friday, and the four survivors managed to stay afloat by clinging to wreckage of the boat. They subsequently found an empty boat at sea, before being rescued by the Rimona.

In a joint statement, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed their “deepest condolences for the loss of dozens of lives” in the shipwreck.

“Today’s numbers add to the growing death toll of shipwrecks in the Central Mediterranean. According to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project, more than 1,800 people have already been reported dead and missing along the route this year,” said the statement.

On Sunday, about 57 people were rescued after two ships sank between Tunisia and Lampedusa within a few hours of each other, while 32 people were declared dead or missing from the two vessels.

Also on Sunday, 34 refugees were rescued after being stranded for 36 hours on a steep cliffside in Lampedusa, after their ship hit rocks just off the island. Rough waters made a rescue by sea impossible, but the victims were eventually lifted to safety by helicopter.

According to the Italian interior ministry, nearly 92,000 refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and beyond have landed on Italian shores so far this year, more than double the amount that arrived in the country during the same period last year, and three times the number from 2021.

The IOM has reported nearly 134,000 migrant arrivals in Europe in 2023.

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