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    Saturday, 30 June 2018

    'Explosion' on inflatable boat claimed lives of many migrants

    The bodies of three babies were recovered and around 100 people were missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Libya on Friday, survivors said.
    About 120 migrants were aboard the inflatable craft when it ran into trouble in Al-Hmidiya, east of the capital Tripoli.
    Sixteen people survived, while the missing and dead included three babies and three children under the age of 12.
    Survivors told AFP the boat sank a few hours after a pre-dawn departure from Garaboulli, east of Tripoli, following an explosion on board.
    The motor then caught fire and the vessel began taking on water, they said.
    The passengers included a number of Moroccan families and Yemenis.
    Libya's coastguard claimed fishermen had spotted the vessel in difficulty and contacted the navy.
    However, charities and NGOs are reeling over European nations making deals with the LCG which has repeatedly endangered the lives of migrants, saying they should have been called on instead. 
    Spanish NGO Open Arms crew intercepted a radio transmission about 8am on Friday between European military and the Libyan coast guard giving details of a rubber boat in distress with 100 migrants onboard, head of mission Ricardo Canardo said.
    But an official distress signal was only received by boats in the region on the Navtext navigation system 90 minutes later.
    When Open Arms called the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Rome to offer help, officials said the Libyan coastguard had the situation covered and that no assistance was needed.
    Shortly later, they received the news that over 100 people were missing at sea in that same region.
    The NGO believes the dead, were the same people they offered assistance to. Founder of Proactiva Open Arms, Òscar Camps, 55, spoke of his ‘outrage’ at the deaths.
    Founder of Proactiva Open Arms, Òscar Camps, 55, spoke of his ‘outrage’ at the deaths.
    Proactiva has been in the Med since 2016, and has been fiercely critical of Europe’s deals with the Libyan coastguard.
    Speaking from the boat the Open Arms in the Search and Rescue Zone in the Med, he said: 'One hundred people have died in the Mediterranean today. What outrages us, is not only the loss of these people's lives, but the fact they haven't counted on the two lifeboats that have medical facilities, the Open Arms that has been here for some days.
    'On other occasions we have intervened in shipwrecks, to help recover as many as possible. Now, all of a sudden we are being omitted, they ignore us, and people keep dying.. and they are dying just miles from where we are.
    'It's an embarrassment, it's outrageous and someone should be held responsible for this.
    'We are not here to make the work of the coastguard difficult, we are here to collaborate so no more lives are lost at sea.'
    Despite Europe handing millions to Libya to stop migrants and refugees in the country taking to the water, hundreds still launch every week.
    The Government in Tripoli does not have control of the entire nation, meaning in militia-run areas migrants are still able to launch. 
    'It's outrageous' NGO Proactiva Open Arms was ready with rescue RHIB boats just miles from where the boat sank but they were not called upon 
    'It's outrageous' NGO Proactiva Open Arms was ready with rescue RHIB boats just miles from where the boat sank but they were not called upon 
    On June 18, five bodies were recovered and more than 100 people survived a shipwrecked off the Libyan coast.
    Nearly 1,000 migrants were rescued on June 24 from multiple inflatable boats which had run into trouble during perilous bids to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
    The latest shipwreck came after European Union leaders reached a deal aimed at sharing the responsibility for hosting migrants more fairly across the bloc.
    The pact reached overnight includes a proposal to set up 'disembarkation platforms' outside the EU as a way to reduce the number of people taking the perilous sea journey.But EU President Donald Tusk said today it was 'far too early to talk about a success', warning that tough work lies ahead to make the agreement work.
    The bloc's leaders thrashed out an agreement in bitter all-night talks that were almost sunk by Italy's new hardline right-wing prime minister Giuseppe Conte, but Tusk said the task had only just begun.
    'As regards our deal on migration, it is far too early to talk about a success. We have managed to reach an agreement in the European Council, but this is in fact the easiest part of the task compared to what awaits us on the ground when we start implementing it,' Tusk told reporters.
    Charities have slammed the accord, which envisages setting up migrant assessment centres outside the EU, as letting down vulnerable people and 'demonising' rescuers helping migrants in the Mediterranean.
    The passengers included a number of Moroccan families and Yemenis. Pictured: Some of the survivors 
    The passengers included a number of Moroccan families and Yemenis. Pictured: Some of the survivors 
    Migrants who survived the sinking of an inflatable dinghy boat off of the coast of Libya are brought ashore in al-Hmidiya, east of the capital Tripoli
    Migrants who survived the sinking of an inflatable dinghy boat off of the coast of Libya are brought ashore in al-Hmidiya, east of the capital Tripoli
    Sixteen people were rescued, while the missing included two babies and three children under the age of 12
    Sixteen people were rescued, while the missing included two babies and three children under the age of 12
    The bodies of three babies were recovered and around 100 people were missing after the migrant boat sank off the coast of Libya
    The bodies of three babies were recovered and around 100 people were missing after the migrant boat sank off the coast of Libya
    The latest shipwreck came after European Union leaders reached a deal aimed at sharing the responsibility for hosting migrants more fairly across the bloc. Pictured: The scene in Libya after the sinking 
    The latest shipwreck came after European Union leaders reached a deal aimed at sharing the responsibility for hosting migrants more fairly across the bloc. Pictured: The scene in Libya after the sinking 
    But Tusk had a tough message for NGO rescue boats, which anti-immigration hardliners have accused of exacerbating the situation.
    'We have sent a clear message to all vessels, including those of NGOs, operating in the Mediterranean that they must respect the law and must not obstruct the operation of the Libyan coastguard,' Tusk said.
    Italy's interior minister Matteo Salvini on Friday announced that his country's ports would refuse to let NGO rescue ships dock or even refuel for 'all summer'.
    Salvini said the NGO boats 'help traffickers, consciously or not'.  
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