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Eight migrants die as boat capsizes off Libyan coast, 17-year-old medically evacuated to Malta

Italian coastguard: At least eight migrants died when their boat overturned off the coast of Libya on Saturday but the death toll may be much higher

15 January 2017, 10:01am
File photo: Last year, a record 181,000 boat migrants, mostly from Africa, reached Italy
File photo: Last year, a record 181,000 boat migrants, mostly from Africa, reached Italy
At least eight migrants have died when their boat overturned off the coast of Libya on Saturday but the death toll may be much higher, the Italian coastguard has said.

Four people have been rescued but the survivors reported that more than a hundred were on board when the boat capsized around 30 miles (50 km) off Libya, a coastguard spokesman said. The inclement weather has not stopped human traffickers from sending migrants on sea crossings.

French and Italian naval and merchant vessels as well as a plane and a helicopter were involved in rescue operations.

Malta yesterday afternoon coordinated a medical evacuation of a 17-year-old boy who needed urgent medical assistance.

The AFM dispatched an AW 139 helicopter with an AFM doctor on board who brought the patient to Malta and was handed over to medical staff from Mater Dei. 

The youth was accompanied by his brother who is also a minor.

In the previous 24 hours, coastguard and naval ships as well as privately owned fishing and merchant vessels had saved around 750 migrants from rubber and wooden boats in the central Mediterranean, but also recovered five dead bodies, the coastguard said.

Last year, a record 181,000 boat migrants, mostly from Africa, reached Italy. The majority paid Libyan people traffickers to make the journey.

Last year was also the deadliest on record for migrants in the Mediterranean, with almost 5,000 deaths, according to the International Organization for Migration.