60 feared dead in shipwreck off Libya

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libya flag REUTERS File photo: Suhaib Salem

Rome - About 60 people may have died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya, according to accounts from rescued survivors being escorted to Italian shores in news reports on Friday.

About 62 migrants were picked up by a merchant ship directed to the scene of the accident by the Italian coast guard. They told rescuers that there were more than twice as many people on the boat that carried them, according to the ANSA news agency.

Italian authorities did not confirm the information. In a statement, the coast guard said more than 2,600 people were rescued from Mediterranean waters on Thursday.

Six hundred were taken to Pozzallo, in mainland Sicily, and 863 to the island of Lampedusa. No final destination had been found for about 1 200 more.

The Italian navy, which is coordinating the Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue mission, spoke of 3 510 boat migrants intercepted in the past two days.

Italy is facing a record inflow of boat migrants this year. Jose Angel Oropeza from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Thursday that more than 67 000 had landed on the country's shores since January 1, compared to a full-year figure for 2013 of less than 43 000. - Sapa-dpa


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