8 Bangladeshis among the hundereds dead in boat capsize off Libya

8 Bangladeshis among the hundereds dead in boat capsize off Libya

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Eight Bangladesh nationals, including two children, were among those died after two boats carrying about 500 migrants sank off Libya, said an official on Friday night.
“The death toll is so far eight,” Counsellor (labour), Bangladesh Embassy to Libya, now situated in Tunisia, Ashraful Islam told journalists over phone from  Libya.
He, however, said they have not seen any body yet but was confirming the deaths on the basis of their conversations with relatives.In August 27, around 2am, a boat (BBC says 2 boats) carrying about 400-500 migrants, including reportedly 54 Bangladeshis, capsized off the Libyan Coastal Town of Zuwara located around 300 km west of Tripoli, while crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
A Bangladesh Embassy team, led by Counsellor (labour) Ashraful Islam, is coordinating medical and humanitarian support, said the Foreign Ministry here.
The Bangladesh Embassy initially reported that five people died while two went missing among the Bangladeshis who were on the ill-fated boat.
The migrants were rescued by the Libyan Coast Guards and extended treatment facilities. The rescued Bangladeshis include four families with children.
So far, all the Bangladesh nationals admitted to hospital have been released after first aid, said the Foreign Ministry here.
There were 31 Bangladesh nationals in the two boats, BBC Bangla, however, reports quoting chargé d’ affaires of Bangladesh Embassy to Libya, now shifted to Tunisia, Mozammel Haque.
The official confirmed the death of five Bangladesh nationals. Some 200 people died in the twin incidents, said the BBC report.
Quoting Embassy sources, the report said most of the Bangladesh nationals could be rescued alive as they were wearing lifejackets.
Haque said 31 Bangladesh nationals of four families were reportedly trying to go to Italy through Libya.
Earlier, the BBC reported that hundreds of people are feared dead after two boats carrying about 500 migrants sank off Libya.
The first boat, which capsized early on Thursday, had nearly 100 people on board. The second, which sank later, was carrying about 400 passengers.
Rescuers have, meanwhile, pulled 82 bodies from the water and saved 198 people, according to an official with the Red Crescent.
About 100 people are still missing, said the official, Ibrahim al-Attoushi.
The boats sank on Thursday after leaving Zuwara, a major launch pad on the Libyan coast for migrants hoping to reach Italy.
The UN says about 2,400 migrants have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year.
More than 100,000 others have landed in Italy, whilst another 160,000 have crossed to Greece.
The Libyan coast guard worked overnight on Thursday to search for survivors from the latest tragedy.
But Libya is poorly equipped to carry out rescue operations as the ships available to its coastguard are small, BBC North Africa correspondent Rana Jawad reports from Tunis.
At least 100 bodies were taken to a hospital in Zuwara, west of Tripoli, a resident told the BBC.
The victims included migrants from Syria, Bangladesh and several sub-Saharan African countries, the resident said, but the information could not be independently verified.
On Wednesday, the bodies of at least 51 people were found in the hold of a stricken ship off Libya’s coast.
They were picked up by a Swedish coastguard ship that also rescued more than 400 survivors – among at least 3,000 migrants saved that day.
The Swedish ship, Poseidon, docked in the port of Palermo, Sicily, on Thursday.
On Saturday, about 4,400 migrants were rescued from boats off the coast of Libya, in one of the biggest single-day operations mounted to date.
Many of those who attempt the journey are fleeing conflict or persecution, and set off from Libya in unseaworthy boats organised by smugglers. Libya has had two competing governments for the past year and is largely ruled by rival militias.
Meanwhile, in Austria, police have said the number of people who died in a parked lorry near the Hungarian border is now confirmed as 71. Three people have been arrested.
The issue of the influx of migrants into Europe through land routes was raised at a summit in Vienna on Thursday.
Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz highlighted the need to deal with the large number of migrants heading to the EU via Western Balkan nations.
He stressed the “whole idea of the European Union without borders inside is in danger” if the bloc’s external borders were not secure. – UNB

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