Week's Migrant Death Toll: Nearly That of the Titanic

'31 times the number who died when the Costa Concordia sank'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2015 3:40 AM CDT
Updated Apr 20, 2015 7:59 AM CDT
Survivor: Hundreds Locked in Hold of Doomed Boat
Migrants receive first aid upon disembarking at Palermo's harbor after being rescued at sea.   (AP Photo/Alessandro Fucarini)

"That is almost as many as died in the Titanic, and 31 times the number who died when the Costa Concordia sank." That's how a rep with Save the Children describes what's happened in the Mediterranean in the last week. The AP reports the death toll could stand at more than 1,000 once the deaths from a weekend shipwreck described as the Mediterranean's deadliest migrant tragedy are confirmed. While initial reports stated as many as 700 were aboard the smugglers' boat when it capsized near the Libyan coast, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi survivor has put the number at 950, including 200 women and dozens of children. Further, the survivor says about 300 people were in the hold, locked there by the smugglers, when the vessel set out, according to a prosecutor; they would have remained trapped when it sank.

And yet hundreds more migrants took to the sea undeterred: The International Organization for Migration today said its Rome office had received a distress call from international waters in the Mediterranean about three boats in need of help. The group says the caller reported 300 people on his sinking boat, with about 20 fatalities. No details were available about the other boats or their location. EU foreign ministers, meanwhile, gathered for an emergency meeting on the growing crisis as migrants flee instability in Libya at unprecedented rates. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi said he would ask his European counterparts to participate in a joint operation targeting smugglers. He said that Italy has so far arrested nearly 1,000 but needs help. (Read more people smuggling stories.)

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