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Hundreds feared dead in latest Mediterranean tragedy

    April 19, 2015

    The latest capsizing of a boat carrying refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean – with hundreds of people feared dead – is a man-made tragedy that could well have been avoided, Amnesty International said.

    A boat able to carry hundreds of refugees and migrants – according to the Italian coast guard - capsized this morning off the Libyan coast. The boat had sent a request for help to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome, which requested a Portuguese merchant vessel to attend the call.

    So far, 28 people have been rescued and 24 bodies have been recovered, according to the coast guard. A rescue operation is currently ongoing with 17 ships involved as well as aircrafts.

    “What we are witnessing in the Mediterranean is a man-made tragedy of appalling proportions. These latest deaths at sea come as a shock, but not a surprise,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

    “Whilst merchant vessels and their crews have bravely attempted to fill the gap left by the chronic shortfall in specialist search and rescue teams, they are not designed, equipped or trained for maritime rescue. It is time for European governments to face their responsibilities and urgently set up a multi-country concerted humanitarian operation to save lives at sea.”

    Background

    On 28 April, Amnesty International will launch a new report which offers an in-depth analysis of the current crisis and includes direct testimonies of survivors of shipwrecks during the first three months of 2015. It details how current search-and-rescue operations are a far cry from what is needed to address the humanitarian crisis in the central Mediterranean.

     

    For further information contact John Tackaberry, Media Relations
    (613)744-7667#236 jtackaberry @amnesty.ca

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