UN Reports 700 Migrants Dead In Mediterranean Shipwrecks

The migrant crisis wages on and as the international issue persists approximately 700 people were killed in a shipwreck this past week in the Mediterranean. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees reported that about 14,000 people were saved last week by the first responders.

According to the Irish Times, Italy, Ireland and Germany sent out a barrage of rescue ships for the migrants. Spokesman William Spindler stated,

“This is by far the busiest week this year in terms of operations, people rescued, but also in terms of casualties.”

The fatalities occurred over a three day period between Wednesday and Friday. This was the largest death toll in one week since April of 2015, over one year ago.

On Thursday, 675 migrants were aboard a motorless boat. About 25 individuals jumped off and swam to safety in another boat. 15 dead bodies were taken from the water and rescuers were able to save the lives of 79 more migrants. Approximately 550 were still unaccounted for and presumed dead.

A UNHCR spokesperson noted that on Friday a shipwreck led to the rescue of 135 migrants and 45 being retrieved from the water. The final death toll is still unknown.

Giorgia Linardi, a rescue team personnel member of the German non profit organization Sea Watch noted,

“It was pretty gruesome. There were already many dead bodies floating in the sea. Some of them were between life and death because they weren’t reacting, but still breathing, whether they made it, we don’t know, because then we handed them to the Italian warship.”

She described over the phone how many bodies were motionless, a newborn infant was found as well as a young couple still hugging each other. Despite efforts to crack down on smugglers, 46,000 migrants arrived in Italy. This is the same number during January through May of last year too.

The Associate Press noted that attaining exact fatality counts is near impossible because the missing bodies are in the open ocean. Survivor accounts are sometimes the only source of information they have. The more migrants that can provide the same story the more exact their estimates can be.

Featured image via NPR.

Olivia is a foreign English teacher in Seoul, South Korea. She's studied abroad in Morocco and Cuba and is a 2015 graduate of Saint Anselm College with a BA in International Relations and Economics. She enjoys writing part time on the side about politics, environmental issues, and travel.