About 146 migrants feared dead after shipwreck


A rubber boat packed with 147 migrants sank in the Mediterranean with all but one of its passengers drowning, the sole survivor – a 16-year-old Gambian boy – told rescuers, the International Migration Organisation (IOM).

A Spanish frigate, the Canarias, found the boy hanging onto debris in the sea on Tuesday. He was transferred to an Italian Coast Guard ship and brought to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa early on Wednesday.
“He was tired when they found him. He’s resting now, so we’ll have more details later,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said in Rome, after speaking to staff in Lampedusa.
“The boy said they left Sabratha, Libya, a couple days ago on a rubber boat with 147 sub-Saharan Africans on board, including five children and some pregnant women,” Di Giacomo said.

In the past two days, rescuers have picked up more than 1,100 migrants at sea, and recovered one body, Italy’s Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard did not comment on the latest shipwreck.

So far this year nearly 600 migrants have died trying to reach Italy from North Africa, IOM estimates, after some 4,600 deaths last year. Migrant arrivals to Italy are up more than 50% this year on the same period last year.

Italy’s parliament on Wednesday approved a law aimed at protecting unaccompanied minors in a measure welcomed by humanitarian groups.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate voted to pass a decree that foresees new detention centres for migrants who are to be deported, cutting the length of the appeals process for those whose asylum requests have been rejected. The decree now goes before the lower house.