At least a hundred people are feared drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after a sailboat capsized off Libya, estimate rescue teams looking for survivors in the rough seas.
The rescuers and the Italian coastguard said that they had recovered seven bodies till Tuesday.
Twenty three survivors were rescued by an oil tanker, which was the first to reach the stricken dinghy, according to German NGO Jugend Rettet. The non-profit organisation has a boat patrolling the Mediterranean.
The survivors were transferred to the Aquarius, a boat operated by another charity group, SOS Mediterranean.
A man who got rescued was quoted as saying, “We were 122 on the boat, no children under 15, but there were 10 women travelling with us and only one survived. We waited in the water, taking any floating thing to remain afloat, but most of the people drowned, including my little brother. He was 15. At 10, the tanker came and rescued us. I want to call home to tell them that my brother died.”
Efforts to find survivors were still on but bad weather conditions were hampering rescue efforts and the chances of finding anyone alive appeared bleak.
This latest tragedy came a day after the sinking of another sailboat in the Mediterranean.
Only 15 people managed to survive, and they were taken on board an Italian coastguard ship en route to the Sicilian port of Catania. It is still not known how many people perished in that boat, but it would be unusual for traffickers to set sail from Libya with as few as 15 people on board the dinghy.
According to the UN refugee agency, the latest deaths sum up to a total of 4,271, mostly Africans, who have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year.
This year has already been the deadliest on record for migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe. The situation in war-torn Libya and other conflict-ridden African countries has led to a higher number of people seeking refuge.
Though the numbers migrating from Turkey to Greece have dropped drastically since March after an agreement between the European Union and Turkey, crossings between Libya and Italy are still at near-record levels.