Dozens of migrants are feared missing after a rubber dinghy carrying 120 people sank off the Libyan coast, according to the Italian navy. The navy told IBTimes UK that 54 migrants, later reported to be from Mali, Senegal, Nigeria and Gambia, were rescued by one of its ships, the Fenice, which rushed to the rubber boat after it broke into two parts.
Survivors said that as many as 66 people are feared missing, of which 13 women. The rescued migrants were taken to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa.
The dinghy departed from Tripoli, Libya, on 10 August, but started to take on water after three hours. People aboard sent a distress call but since they were still in Libyan territorial waters, the authorities allegedly told them that they could not come to rescue them.
An attempt to turn back to Libya was blocked by the smugglers. Afterwards, the rubber dinghy broke in two and people fell into the water. Two migrants were rescued by the Italian navy helicopter Orione while holding onto a barrel in the water.
Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesperson at the International Organization for Migration, confirmed the report:
Earlier this month, some 200 migrants are feared to have drowned off the coast of Libya as they attempted to get out from the sinking boat's hull. Italian police have arrested five people from Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya on murder and human trafficking charges.
The men, who arrived in Palermo aboard the Irish Niamh rescue boat along with 362 migrants, are accused of causing the deaths of hundreds of people by trapping them within the hold of the boat after it started taking on water.