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Hundreds of migrants perished in boat's hold

By ap reporters

About 200 migrants are thought to have died when a fishing boat capsized off Libya because smugglers kept them inside the hold, survivors have told police.

About 370 people survived after the boat capsized as rescuers approached, and have since arrived in Sicily aboard an Irish naval vessel - the LÉ Niamh - which docked in Palermo.

Police said migrant accounts helped confirm preliminary estimates by rescuers that about 600 were on the 20-metre fishing boat.

Investigators now estimate that 650 migrants were aboard.

Officers said some of the five smugglers, who were detained when they disembarked with survivors, were tasked with using violence if necessary to ensure the migrants did not move.

Twenty-six bodies have been recovered.

Among those rescued was a Palestinian man who saved his wife by giving her his life jacket, then diving below the surface to grab their toddler daughter as she disappeared.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph