Refugees feared dead after boat sinks
Published 07/04/2011 | 05:00
Between 130 and 250 people were missing after a boat carrying refugees from Libya capsized south of Sicily yesterday.
Rescuers picked up 47 people, including a pregnant woman, after the overloaded boat sank south of the island of Lampedusa.
According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), a migrant assistance agency which has officials on Lampedusa, an Italian fishing boat rescued another three people.
Between 15 and 20 bodies were seen in the water, officials said, but high winds and rough seas made it difficult for coast guard boats and a police helicopter to operate.
Coast guard officials said the boat had originally been carrying around 200 people but the IOM put the figure as high as 300, of whom it said some 250 were missing.
The incident provided a stark illustration of the dangers faced by desperate people who pay about €1,000 for a place on one of the overloaded fishing vessels carrying refugees.