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Mediterranean Sea gulps 700 migrants fleeing poverty



Hundreds of migrants fleeing poverty and harsh conditions in their countries, with the hope of getting to greener pastures in European countries have ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya.

The Italian Coast Guard said in a statement on Sunday that 28 survivors and 24 bodies have been recovered, after a boat with hundreds of migrants trying to reach Italy capsized.

The authorities said Details of the accident and the number of migrants on board were unclear, but, news reports estimated that the boat was carrying 500 to 700 people.

The boat, which was 20 meters, or about 65 feet, long, capsized 70 miles north of Libya as a Portuguese vessel that the Italian authorities had diverted was approaching it early Sunday, the coast guard said.

The boat possibly capsized when the migrants moved to one side of their vessel as the merchant ship approached, the coast guard said.

“It is really too early to know, but if the number was confirmed, this would be the deadliest shipwreck in the Mediterranean,” said Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration in Italy. “The migrant boats are increasingly overloaded, and the journeys become even more dangerous, if at all possible.”

According to the organization, about 900 people are believed to have died so far this year.

“If there really were 700 dead this time,” Di Giacomo said, “we would hit a horrendous record.”

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