Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Smugglers locked hundreds in capsized boat - survivor

20 April 2015, 08:32

Rome - A survivor flown to Sicily for treatment after a boat capsized off Libya’s coast has said that smugglers locked hundreds of people in the boat’s hold before it set sail.

The boat crammed with hundreds of people overturned off Libya's coast as rescuers approached last week, causing what could be the Mediterranean's deadliest known migrant tragedy and intensifying pressure on the European Union on Sunday to finally meet demands for decisive action.

Survivor accounts of the number aboard varied, with the Italian Coast Guard saying that the capsized boat had a capacity for "hundreds" of people.

Italian prosecutors said a Bangladeshi survivor flown to Sicily for treatment told them 950 people were aboard, including hundreds who had been locked in the hold by smugglers. Earlier, authorities said a survivor told them 700 migrants were on board.

Prosecutor Giovanni Salvi told The Associated Press by phone from the city of Catania that a survivor from Bangladesh described the situation on the fishing boat to prosecutors who interviewed him in a hospital.

The man said about 300 people were in the hold, locked in their by the smugglers, when the vessel set out. He said that of the 950 who set out aboard the doomed boat, some 200 were women and several dozen were children.

It was not immediately clear if they were referring to the same survivor, and Premier Matteo Renzi said Italian authorities were "not in a position to confirm or verify" how many were on board when the boat set out from Libya.

Also read: At least nine dead after migrant boat sinks off Libya

Rescue effort

Eighteen ships joined the rescue effort, but only 28 survivors and 24 bodies had been pulled from the water by nightfall, Renzi said.

These small numbers make more sense if hundreds of people were locked in the hold, because with so much weight down below, "surely the boat would have sunk," said General Antonino Iraso, of the Italian Border Police, which has deployed boats in the operation.

Salvi stressed that there was no confirmation yet of the man's account and that the investigation was ongoing.

Iraso said the sea in the area is too deep for divers, suggesting that the final toll may never be known. The sea off Libya runs as deep as 5km or more.

"How can it be that we daily are witnessing a tragedy?" asked Renzi, who strategised with his top ministers ahead of Monday's European Union meeting in Luxembourg, where foreign ministers scrambled to add stopping the smugglers to their agenda.

Resurgent right-wing political parties have made a rallying cry out of a rising tide of illegal migration. So far this year, 35 000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe and more than 900 are known to have died trying.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...