Thirty people are missing and 17 have been rescued in the central Mediterranean after the boat in which they were travelling from Libya capsized in bad weather, Italy’s coast guard has said.
Rescue operations were ongoing, supported by merchant ships and aerial support by the European Union’s border agency Frontex, while two further merchant vessels were en route to the area, the coast guard said in a statement on Sunday.
Earlier on Sunday, the Mediterranea Saving Humans charity had tweeted that according to several sources, the vessel, travelling in the direction of Italy, had capsized about 177km (110 miles) northwest of Benghazi.
Alarm Phone – another charity, which picks up calls from migrant vessels in distress – said on Twitter that it had first alerted authorities on Saturday, emphasising that the boat, which was carrying 47 people, needed immediate rescue.
After an initial rescue attempt by a merchant ship failed due to bad weather, Libyan authorities asked Rome for help given that they lacked the means to carry out the rescue, the coast guard’s statement added.
Rome then requested merchant ships in the area to join the rescue efforts, noting that the capsize occurred outside Italy’s search and rescue area.
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