Over 160 migrants are feared to have perished off Libya this week in two separate accidents off the coast of Zawiya, a coastal town that has become the new focal point for departures from the North African coast, Migrant Report said.
On March 30, the Libyan coastguard and an Italian tug boat rescued more than 170 people from two separate boats that ran into trouble around 12 miles off Zawiya. One of the boats had deflated with 140 people on board, while the other collapsed, spilling most of the 85 people on board into the sea.
Only 31 people were rescued from this second boat, while the the entire group from the first vessel was brought back to shore, where survivors were treated by the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC).
However, a day earlier, a coastguard crew on patrol, spotted a woman about 15 miles off Zawiya and pulled her in. She was still alive despite spending three days at sea.
Sasiya Sadashi, 20 from Nigeria, said she was on a rubber boat with 85 other migrants, including her older sister and 19 year old brother, when the vessel started taking in water. The man in charge of steering the boat turned back but in the process the vessel took in more water and suddenly just collapsed.
Sasiya told rescuers everyone ended up in the water in a matter of minutes. Most couldn’t swim and took down others with them as they were thrashing desperately in a chaos. Sasiya survived with a group of others who managed to hold on to some debris that was left from the boat but eventually they got separated.
When the coastguard spotted Sasiya early on Tuesday morning, she was alone. They toured the area looking for other survivors and launched a may day for other vessels to scour the stretch of sea around the rescue area but no one else was found.
When they reached shore, all of the surviving migrants were treated by the Libya Red Crescent which provides medical care and even psychological assistance. Sasiya needed extended treatment for her extended exposure to salt water. She was transferred to the Zawya Educational Hospital along with other survivors needing extended treatment.
Dr Osama Sultan, head of International Relations at the Red Crescent said the organisation is doing its utmost despite limited resources. He said the situation remained critical, in spite of a pendulum response by the international community.
Libyan Navy Collonel Masood Abusamed, said the incident was almost routine although the loss of life this week was extraordinary for this year.
“Over the past weeks, we intercepted and rescued more than 2,000 migrants,” he said.
Source: Migrant Report
Photos of survivors from rescued boats being treated by volunteers from Libyan Red Crescent Society.