At least 13 people died on October 7 when an overloaded migrant boat capsized off the island of Lampedusa as they were about to be rescued according to the Italian coast guard. Twenty-two people were rescued from the sea and taken to land. The coast guard stated that smugglers' boat toppled as a patrol boat was preparing to take migrants on board in rough seas about six miles (10 kilometers) off Lampedusa just after midnight. Twenty-two migrants were rescued from the sea and 13 dead bodies were recovered - two immediately and 11 during a search operation conducted by the coast guard.
The coast guard said all the recovered bodies were of women. Italian coast guard vessels and choppers were searching for more missing bodies. Doctors Without Borders said the Ocean Viking ship it operates has been asked by Italian authorities to join the operation. The initial reports by the concerned authorities in Sicily said that they received a distress call and put the number of migrants aboard to around 50. NGOs said that as many as 30 migrants including eight children could be missing from the smuggler's boat which had departed Tunisia. The authorities had no additional information on how many might be missing. The UN Refugee Agency said the deadly remains of the ship draw attention to take urgent action that is needed to address the situation in the Mediterranean. The UNHCR spokesperson urged the EU to resume its rescue operations in the Mediterranean sea where more than 1000 migrants have died so far this year.
On the other hand, Spanish aid group Open Arms said Monday it rescued 44 people on a wooden boat trying to reach European coasts. The chief of mission of the Open Arms rescue boat said the boat was identified late Sunday in Malta's rescue zone which is about 50 miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa. The chief of mission said Malta's rescue coordination centre will not offer any assistance saying Italy would probably send a patrol boat from Lampedusa. In a video that was shared by the aid group, the chief of mission said that all the 44 people aboard the boat were rescued and all were in good condition.
(With inputs from AP)