Migrant boat accident off Libyan coast kills 90

By Danielle Silvia
Copy Writer

A boat smuggling Pakistani and Libyan migrants capsized off the coast of Libya on Feb. 2, killing an estimated 90 people aboard, according to CNN.

Zuwara is a common destination for Pakistani migrants. (AP Photo)

Migrants departing from Libya aim to enter Europe through countries like Italy and Greece by way of the Mediterranean Sea. Later that morning, 10 bodies were found washed ashore near the Libyan town of Zuwara, according to CBS.

The boat appeared to be sailing in calm waters but became unbalanced as the boat approached Zuwara, According to The New York Times.

Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, explained the likelihood of finding more survivors in an article by CNN.

“They are still searching for survivors, but it is very, very unlikely, it seems, at this point,” Doyle said.

In January of this year alone, about 246 people have died while traversing the Mediterranean migrant route, according to CNN.

“We are told that two survivors swam to shore, and one person was rescued by a fishing boat,” said Olivia Headon, a spokeswoman for IOM, according to CBS. “We are working to get more details on the (capsizing) and where the survivors are so that we can assist them better.”

The number of migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea has been rapidly rising. Pakistanis make up one of the largest portions of migrants using the route. In January of this year, they composed the third-largest contingent, according to CBS.

“(The refugees) find themselves stuck in a horrible situation, vulnerable to human rights violations and the slave market. So they may have no choice but to seek a crossing to Europe,” said Flavio Di Giacomo, a United Nations migration official, in an article by The New York Times.

Di Giacomo hypothesized that several migrants may have chosen the path to migrate through Libya as opposed to other routes, such as through Turkey or Greece, because such routes are much more dangerous to cross during winter months, according to The New York Times.

Due to the ongoing political turmoil and violence in Libya, the nation has become a hub for migrants looking to be smuggled to Europe, according to The New York Times.

“It’s an absolutely shocking tragedy,” Doyle said, according to CNN. “So far we have probably seen the only survivors we are going to see, let’s hope there are more.”