400 Feared Lost in 'Most Dangerous Stretch of Water'
Thousands more migrants were saved over the weekend
By Alex Tirpack,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2015 11:13 AM CDT
A Red Cross volunteer carries a baby wrapped in a blanket after migrants disembarked at the Sicilian Porto Empedocle harbor, Italy, Monday, April 13, 2015.   (AP Photo/Calogero Montanalampo)

(Newser) – As many as 400 Libyan migrants are feared dead after the boat they were in capsized in the Mediterranean Sea this weekend, the BBC reports. Italian search and rescue teams have saved roughly 145 people and recovered nine bodies from the accident so far, but survivors claim as many as 550 people were in the boat when the incident occurred, with many of the victims "thought to be unaccompanied children," per a Save the Children press release. AFP reports the boat possibly capsized due to passengers moving around after spotting Italian rescuers; between Friday and Monday, teams came to the aid of more than 8,000 migrants who were trying to reach Italy.

"If the reports are confirmed, this past weekend would be among the deadliest few days in the world's most dangerous stretch of water for migrants and asylum seekers," a Human Rights Watch director said in a statement. This particular part of the Mediterranean has also twice this year seen armed human traffickers try to scare off rescue teams and reclaim the now-empty migrant boats. UN officials estimate 170,000 people migrated from Libya to Italy last year, with as many as 3,500 dying in the process. More than 500 migrants have perished this year so far—a death toll 30 times higher than the one at this point last year.
 

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