At least eight people died and 86 others were rescued after a rubber dinghy starting sinking in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, according to the Italian coast guard, which said a search was continuing to find any more survivors.
The coast guard, which coordinates rescues in international waters off Libya’s coast, said an aircraft on patrol for a European anti-smuggling operation spotted the dinghy in difficulty, on Saturday morning. Italian navy and coast guard vessels were involved in the rescue.
The coast guard’s Cmdr Sergio Liardo told RaiNews24 “it appears the dinghy deflated” after a puncture. When rescuers arrived in the early afternoon about 20 people were still in the dinghy while others were in the water.
All eight victims were female, Liardo said. Asked about a Libyan navy account that at least 25 migrants had perished, he said: “That’s not confirmed.” Survivors told rescuers roughly 150 migrants were on board when the dinghy was launched from Libya’s coast.
Libyan navy and coast guard spokesman Brig Gen Ayoub Qassim said the migrants’ boat capsized and sank in international waters and the Libyan navy did not have the resources to rush to their rescue.