41 migrants fleeing Libya drown in Mediterranean

CAIRO (AP) — At least 41 people drowned over the weekend when their boat capsized in the Central Mediterranean, the United Nations (UN) said on Wednesday, the latest shipwreck involving migrants fleeing conflict-stricken Libya and seeking better life in Europe.

The UN migration and refugee agencies said in a joint statement that the dead were among at least 120 migrants on a dinghy that left Libya on February 18.

The shipwreck took place two days later, it said.

A commercial vessel rescued the survivors and took them to the Sicilian port town of Porto Empedocle in Italy, they added.

The tragedy started when the dinghy took on water about 15 hours after the migrants embarked on their perilous voyage, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said, citing testimonies from survivors.

Within hours, at least six people fell into the sea and perished, and two others drowned while attempting to swim to a boat spotted in the distance.

Later, the commercial vessel Vos Triton arrived, and attempted to rescue survivors in what the UNHCR described as a “difficult and delicate operation”. Many others died during the rescue operation, it said.

Only one body was recovered, and the missing included three children and four women.