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UN sends team to Greece to ascertain number of victims drowned in Mediterranean



The United Nations has deployed a team to the Greek coastal city of Kalamata to ascertain the actual number of casualties who drowned in the Mediterranean when a boat capsized after several unconfirmed reports and witness statements revealed that the actual number of dead people could be 400 to 500 people.

UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman, Ariane Rummery announced the probe late on Tuesday. No government, navy, NGO or UN agency has been able to corroborate the witness accounts.

One of the survivors, Somali refugee Muhidin Ali Waash, said that the ship’s passengers rushed to one side of the vessel and “it lost balance”.

Asad Mohamed Othman, also from Somalia, recalled the incident.

“I can’t do anything because I am in danger, I am in the sea,” he told Al Jazeera in Kalamata, a Greek coastal city.

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“My wife and my child are gone,” said Muaz Mahmoud Aymo, who left Ethiopia hoping to reach Europe.
Muaz said his wife, baby and brother-in-law all drowned. “My family … three people in this boat … all dead,” he told Al Jazeera.

The UNHCR team was sent to Kalamata, where the local port authority has confirmed the rescue of 41 people from a wooden boat.

Rummery said, though, that there was no official confirmation of a link between the survivors and an incident such as the one described.

“We cannot confirm anything until we have a direct testimony or something from official authorities,” Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), said.

Di Giacomo said that, according to some unconfirmed reports, a boat left Egypt and met a smaller boat that had sailed from Libya.

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