News / Europe

Migrant Boat Carrying Hundreds Sinks South of Sicily

FILE - Migrants wait to disembark an Italian Navy ship in the port of Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy, May 2, 2014.
FILE - Migrants wait to disembark an Italian Navy ship in the port of Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy, May 2, 2014.
Reuters
Italian naval and coast guard vessels recovered 14 bodies and rescued around 200 people after a migrant boat sank in the sea between Libya and southern Sicily, authorities said on Monday, a day after dozens were drowned in a similar incident.

Italy has struggled for decades with a stream of migrants traveling in small, unsafe boats from North Africa to the islet of Lampedusa, midway between Tunisia and Sicily. The influx of migrants has grown since the Arab Spring upheavals of 2011 and the protracted civil war in Syria.

An Italian navy statement said two naval and two coast guard patrol boats and a vessel from the Guardia di Finanza customs police had joined the rescue operation on Monday and medical assistance was being provided to survivors.

It was unclear how many other survivors or bodies might remain in the water, with some Italian media reports saying the boat may have been carrying as many as 400 people when it sank some 60 miles off the Libyan coast.

On Sunday, at least 40 people died and 51 others were rescued after a boat carrying migrants mostly from sub-Saharan Africa sank off Libya's coast east of Tripoli.

Hundreds of migrants were drowned in two separate disasters last year that prompted the Italian government to step up air and marine patrols of the seas south of Sicily.

Well over 25,000 migrants have reached Italy in the first few months of this year, with the collapse of order in large parts of Libya leaving authorities struggling to combat the groups that control the illegal migrant traffic.

"There has been an unexpected wave of illegal immigration these days and we do not know the reasons why this has happened yet," said Libyan Navy spokesman Col. Ayoub Qassem.

With less than two weeks to go before European parliamentary elections, the issue of immigration has become a hot political topic, with Italian politicians repeating longstanding calls for other countries in Europe to do more to help.

"There needs to be urgent action by the European Union to open reception camps managed directly by the United Nations for refugees in Libya," Khalid Chaouki, an immigration specialist from Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party.

However, Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party repeated its call for the Mare Nostrum naval task force set up last year to be scrapped, saying it encouraged people smugglers.

"The Mare Nostrum operation is false charity, Russian roulette disguised as a humanitarian operation," said Gianluca Pini, a lawmaker from the party.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid