At least 30 people feared drowned off Libya, IOM says

Britain to take 4,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East

File photo.
File photo.

At least 30 persons are feared to have drowned off Libya after their dinghy began to sink, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Friday.

Some 91 survivors rescued by the Italian coastguard on Thursday said the boat had been carrying between 120 and 140 people when it began to deflate, sparking panic and tipping some people overboard.

“As often happens, the dinghy, which had been inflated on the beach (of Misrata) just before departure, quickly began to deflate,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo told AFP.

“People panicked, they all rushed to one side of the dinghy. Many fell in the water, some drowned while others managed to pull themselves back on board.”

Rescuers said they recovered just one body.

The survivors, who hail largely from Somalia but also include Sudanese and Nigerian nationals, were taken to a reception centre on the Italian island of Lampedusa, AFP said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the United Kingdom will accept “thousands more” Syrian refugees to help Europe cope with the influx of refugees. The UN refugee agency confirmed that Britain will take a further 4,000 Syrian refugees from camps in the Middle East.

"We obviously welcome very much the move to increase resettlement spaces for Syrians in the UK. Those spaces are going to be critical to the lives and future of 4,000 people," said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

"We certainly believe that there's the momentum here" for other countries to follow suit.

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