At least 94 people died and dozens missing after the sinking of a ship with 500 refugees on board trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa in south of Sicily, according to the officials and the rescue teams.
The local mayor of Lampedusa, Giusi Nicolini told the media that the boat with mainly Somali refugees, have caught fire about a kilometer off the coast and went down. She said that the rescuers have saved about 150 and about 250 are still missing.
She confirmed that 94 bodies have been recovered, including a pregnant woman and two children and said that death toll could be higher as dozens of people are still in the water. Nicolini added that police have arrested a person among the survivors, suspected to be the dealer that took the migrants.
Nicolini explained that survivors told her that they kindled a small fire to alert the Coast Guard after their boat got some problem. The fire had broken out, panicking the refugees on board, so the boat was turned over and all ended up in the sea.
In good weather, the refugees from Asia and Africa try to reach European shores by boats in the Mediterranean and some of the journeys face fatal accidents.
Just a few days ago, 13 people from Egypt were drowned off the Italian coast after being forced by traffickers to jump off the barge on traveling even though they could not swim. A group of about 200 migrants was forced to jump into the sea when their ship sank off, a few meters from the beach in the province of Ragusa, Sicily.