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More than 400 refugees ‘drown in Mediterranean’ after boats capsize crossing from Egypt to Italy


More than 400 migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean as they tried to get to Europe in four rickety boats.

Most of those who died were Somalis and only 29 were saved in the shocking accident, according to Egyptian media reports.

The boat set off from Egypt earlier today in a bid to get to Italy which is a favoured route for people smugglers.

Somalia’s ambassador to Egypt said its embassy is in the process of assessing the situation.

The horrifying death toll from a single incident comes as it was revealed fewer migrants died in the Mediterranean in the first four months of this year compared to last year, despite many more arriving in Europe.

A total of 177,207 migrants arrived in Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Spain between January and April 13 this year, the latest numbers from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reveal.

In that time 732 people have died, including 352 taking the central Mediterranean route to Italy, like the group who tragically drowned today.

From January to the end of April last year a fraction of that number had arrived in Europe, with 52,750 making it across but 1,733 died.


Previously, more migrants were making the perilous journey from the Middle East but the IOM, which has staff at all the major European points, said more are now coming from sub-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Federico Soda, the director of IOM’s coordination office for the Mediterranean in Rome, said: “IOM staff have met many of the migrants and established that the departure point for all of them was Libya.

“Many of them were from sub-Saharan Africa, and we have noticed an increase in numbers from the Horn of Africa, particularly Eritreans.”

The new figures come less than a month after the introduction of a new deal between the EU and Turkey, which means refugees and migrants arriving in Greece can now be sent back to Turkey and for every Syrian refugee sent back a Syrian in Turkey will be given a new home in Europe.

Mr Soda added: “For the time being it is not possible to link the increase of arrivals in the central Mediterranean to the EU/Turkey deal or the closure of the Balkan routes.

“The majority of migrants arriving from Libya are African nationals, using well known and established routes into Libya. There have been very few Syrians leaving from Libya in recent months.”

The new figures show a swing in which routes migrants are using to get into Europe, with the eastern Mediterranean route – coming from the Middle East through Turkey – seeing a steep rise this year as 153,390 made it to Greece and Cyprus through that route, with 375 dying.

Last year 22,677 used the route, with 31 dying.

The central Mediterranean route from Africa to Italy has taken a slight dip, with 23,170 migrants taking it this year while 26,228 took it in the same period last year.

However, the route has seen a large drop in deaths this year with just 352 this year and 1,687 until the end of April last year.


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