Boat Carrying Hundreds of Migrants Capsizes Off Libya – Wall Street Journal

The "Door of Europe" monument, which commemorates migrants who died on their journey, is seen on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Feb. 19.
ENLARGE

ROME—About 25 people died when a fishing boat carrying hundreds of migrants capsized on Wednesday in the Mediterranean Sea, around 15 miles north of the Libyan coast, the Italian coast guard said.

About 400 people were saved in the continuing rescue operations, a spokesman for the coast guard told Italian television, adding that the boat may have been carrying as many as 600 migrants.


Another coast-guard spokesman said several boats were involved in the rescue, including an Irish naval vessel and a boat operated by Doctors Without Borders, which were the first to intervene.

According to preliminary reports, the fishing boat capsized after the migrants moved to one side once they saw two rescue boats approaching, the spokesman said.

Italy, together with Greece, has seen a surge in the number of migrants reaching its shores, often seeking to escape war and persecution. About 97,000 people have tried to reach Italy so far this year, with another 90,500 landing in Greece.


But the Mediterranean crossing has emerged as the world’s deadliest route for migrants, as people smugglers overload unstable, small boats. In April, about 800 people died when a ship sunk off the Libyan coast. With the Syrian civil war escalating and more refugees desperately trying to leave war zones as well as an increasingly unstable situation in Libya, the number of migrants trying to flee their country of origin has been on the rise.

According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 2,000 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the vast majority of whom seeking to arrive in Italy.

However, the number of deaths of migrants trying to reach Europe by boat has declined since the spring, after the EU put in place sweeping patrols of the Mediterranean in the wake of the deaths in April.

Write to Giada Zampano at giada.zampano@wsj.com

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