Sixty-four migrants are feared drowned after a rubber dinghy sank off the coast of Libya over the weekend, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Monday.
The migrants “lost their lives in the shipwreck that occurred Saturday. According to testimonies gathered by IOM Italia staff in Catania, the rubber dinghy, at the time of departure, was carrying 150 migrants. Survivors total 86. Eight corpses have been recovered and there are 56 missing migrants,” IOM’s Italy spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said on Twitter.
The deaths represent the first major migrant tragedy of 2018 in the Mediterranean Sea.
A total of 171,635 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea during 2017 compared with 363,504 arrivals across the region in 2016, according to the UN migration agency.
The number of deaths during the perilous journey across the Mediterranean totaled 3,116 last year, marking a significant drop from 5,143 deaths in 2016.
According to the IOM, some 119,310 people arrived by sea as irregular migrants to Italy in 2017, the lowest total in four years.