Activists: Slow Response Led to 30 Migrant Deaths off Libya


An activist network that supports rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea is accusing Italy of failing to offer timely assistance to a smugglers’ boat in distress, resulting in a deadly shipwreck that left at least 30 migrants missing and presumed dead in Libya’s search-and-rescue area.

The incident comes two weeks after another shipwreck off the coast of southern Italy left at least 79 people dead. The wrecks have focused attention on Italian and European protocols for responding to suspected smuggling boats; crossings through the deadly central Mediterranean Sea have doubled over past year.

Alarm Phone, which notifies authorities of migrants in need of rescue, said it had notified Italian, Libyan, and Maltese authorities of the boat’s location, and emphasized that it was in danger due to high waves. It claimed that the migrants died due to “deadly non-assistance by the Italian authorities,” noting that the same boat was spotted nine hours after its initial report by another group that operates surveillance flights. “They would be alive if Europe had not decided to let them drown,” the organization said.

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