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Italian Police: Migrant Survivors Say 200 Died in Shipwreck

Italian Police: Migrant Survivors Say 200 Died in Shipwreck

Friday, 07 August 2015 12:42 PM

ROME (AP) — Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized off Libya as rescuers approached told investigators their smugglers used violence to keep people in the vessel's hold, increasing fears that more than 200 died trapped inside, police in Sicily said Friday.

The five suspected smugglers — Libyan and Algerian men — were detained a day earlier in Palermo as they disembarked, along with 362 survivors, from an Irish naval vessel that helped in Wednesday's rescue, police said. Six other migrants who survived were helicoptered from sea to the hospital. Twenty-six bodies have been recovered.

The suspects were arrested for investigation of multiple counts of manslaughter and aiding illegal immigration, and are accused of belonging to a criminal organization based in Libya, from where the overcrowded, unseaworthy vessels set sail.

"According to some of the witness accounts, these criminals allegedly each had a precise role," the police statement said. "One of these, along with two others, commanded the boat; the others were tasked with controlling the migrants, impeding them from moving, even by using violence."

The five "allegedly caused the ascertained deaths of 26 people and the presumed deaths of about 200, who, according to what witnesses say, were closed inside the boat which overturned," the police added, estimating a total of 650 migrants had been aboard the 20-meter-long fishing boat.

Some migrants who fell into the water had life vests; others, struggling to swim, were tossed life vests by rescuers. Italian military helicopters lowered inflatable rafts.

Migrants paid $1,200 to $1,800 each to cross the Mediterranean as they fled war, persecution and poverty. Safer places on board cost more; life vests were sold separately as extras, police said.

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Survivors of a migrant boat that capsized off Libya as rescuers approached told investigators their smugglers used violence to keep people in the vessel's hold, increasing fears that more than 200 died trapped inside, police in Sicily said Friday.The five suspected...
EU,Italy,Migrants
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2015-42-07
Friday, 07 August 2015 12:42 PM
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