Migrant Ship Capsizes Near Sicily, Dozens Dead

A migrant ship capsized near the Sicilian island of Lampedusa on Friday, while carrying about 200 passengers. About two dozen passengers drowned in the incident.

Rescue crews reported seeing bodies in the water, though the coast guard reported most of the passengers were rescued. Helicopters ferried injured passengers to Lampedusa.

Half a dozen Maltese and Italian ships also responded to the scene, according to Fox News. The migrant ship’s capsizing occurred about 65 miles southeast of Lampedusa, but it was in waters where Malta is responsible for search and rescue operations.

Friday’s incident is the second time a migrant ship capsized near Sicily in the past week. Last week, a shipwreck happened in the same area, leaving at least 339 people dead.

The coast guard was alerted to the ship’s problems on Friday through a satellite phone call. It was located based on satellite coordinates, according to coast guard spokesman Marco Di Milla.

CNN notes that Maltese military spokesman Keith Caruana explained of the rescue, “We are trying to save as many people as we can.” The Armed Forces of Malta also released a statement about the incident, saying that the ship was followed by military chase planes around 4 pm local time and “appeared unstable.” The statement added:

“A few minutes later, the aircraft reported that the boat had capsized and that numerous persons were in the water. Initial assistance was provided by the aircraft, which dropped a life raft in close proximity of the persons in distress.”

Lampedusa is the closest Italian island to Africa. Because of this, it is a destination for tens of thousand of refugees who attempt to enter European Union countries. Shipwrecks like the two seen this month are sadly common for the area. The ship that sank on October 3 was traveling to Italy from Libya when it caught fire off the Italian coast and sank. Many of the survivors were from Eritrea.

Last week’s incident prompted the United Nations’ human rights office to urge the European Union to try and prevent another incident. Unfortunately, Friday’s migrant ship capsizing shows the EU wasn’t successful, at least not yet.

[Image via ShutterStock]