UN: 200 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean

UN: 200 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean
# 28 August 2015 19:54 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. An estimated 200 migrants are still missing and feared dead after a boat sank off the Libyan coast Thursday as the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year has exceeded 300,000, the UN said Friday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

Around 200 migrants, mostly from North Africa and the Middle East, have gone missing or have died after an overcrowded boat sank in the Mediterranean on Thursday. An undetermined number of bodies were recovered and taken to to shore, seven miles from the Libyan port town of Zwara. The Libyan Red Crescent has been helping with the collection of the bodies.

"The number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year has now exceeded 300,000, including almost 200,000 people landing in Greece and 110,000 in Italy," UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a press conference in Geneva on Friday.

"This presents a large increase from last year, when around 219,000 people crossed the Mediterranean during the whole of 2014," Fleming added.

Some 2,500 migrants died

While trying to reach Europe, some 2,500 migrants have died or gone missing this year so far, Fleming said.

"On Wednesday, rescuers coming to the aid of a boat off the Libyan coast found 51 people dead from suffocation in the hold. According to survivors, smugglers were charging people money for allowing them to come out of the hold in order to breathe," Fleming said.

Last year, some 3,500 migrants died in the Mediterranean.

70 migrants died inside a truck

More than 70 people inside a truck abandoned on an Austrian highway close to the Hungarian border were found dead on Thursday, a government official confirmed.

The UNHCR presumed that the truck came from Hungary and entered Austria on Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and that the victims might have been dead for one or two days.