200 Rescued When Migrant Boat Capsizes Off Italy

Up to 50 people thought to be dead

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 11, 2013 1:47 PM CDT | Updated Oct 11, 2013 3:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – About 50 people are dead, including 10 children, after another boat carrying migrants to Italy capsized today in the Channel of Sicily, ANSA reports. (The AP's death toll is at 27.) It could have been far worse: Officials estimate that 200 of the 250 migrants on board have been rescued by an Italian Navy vessel and a Maltese ship. The tragedy—the second migrant-boat disaster there in 8 days—apparently started when migrants moved around on their boat to signal Maltese military aircraft about a problem on board. That caused the boat to capsize.

Today's disaster provides "dramatic confirmation of the emergency situation" faced in Italy with migrants, said Premier Enrico Letta. Last week, up to 363 people died when a migrant boat capsized in the same waters. European Commission President Jose Barroso responded by promising that the EU would help Italy handle its migrant crisis. The island of Lampedusa is the main entry point for migrants trying to enter Europe; thousands make the scary trip across the Mediterranean each year, usually in creaky and overcrowded boats.

Italian soldiers and a Coast Guard officer stand next to body bags at the Lampedusa island, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, after the previous migrant boat capsized.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this photo released by the Maltese Army, migrants are aboard a life raft after a boat capsized off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa Oct.11.   (AP Photo/Maltese Army HO)
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