A boat carrying approximately 137 passengers deflated in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily, leading to dozens of people drowning, according to Save the Children.
Around 40 people were reported to have drowned in the water. The survivors reached the Sicilian port city of Catania on Tuesday.
According to CNN, the organization said in a statement, “The commercial ship Zeran picked up two separate dinghies since Sunday, both of which set off from Libya.
“One had more than 100 people, all survivors. The other had approximately 137 people on board. They have all been brought to Catania port in Sicily this morning and are disembarking right now. They are from Ghana, Gambia, Senegal and Ivory Coast (so far). We believe there are at least 30 minors (under 18s) so far but all the arrivals still need to be interviewed. There are at least 2 younger children (5-7 years old).”
Giovanna Di Benedetto, a Save the Children representative in Catania who spoke to survivors, emphasized that the details of the accident were sketchy and needed to be verified.
She told the AFP news agency the boat carrying 137 passengers “deflated or exploded – it wasn’t clear – and that some of them fell overboard.”
“Some said ‘very many’ died, others said ‘around 40’”, she further added.
According to The New York Times, in a separate statement she said, “Shipwrecks have tragically become a daily occurrence.
“We appeal to Europe to finally establish a system that will carry out search and rescue missions at sea.”
Astoy Fall Dia, one of the survivors from Senegal, said that she remained close to the dinghy, which was why she survived.
She said that the explosion sounded like a “boom” before the merchant ship arrived at the scene.
She said, “There was the big ship there and they threw down ropes, someone grabbed on to the rope, all the other people started pushing to try to save themselves but then people started falling in the water.”
As reported by BBC, the number of deaths of people trying to cross the Mediterranean this year has escalated 20 times than the same period in 2014.
Around 1,829 deaths have been reported in 2015.
Melissa Fleming, an agency spokeswoman, said that around 36,390 people have been estimated to have crossed the sea and reached Italy, Greece and Malta in the first few months of this year.
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