LONDON — Dozens of migrants are feared to have died Sunday after falling out of a boat in the Mediterranean Sea, aid organization Save the Children said Tuesday.
The report is just one of many involving migrants dying in the sea, as thousands leave North Africa every month aboard crowded vessels, trying to escape desperate conditions and make it to the shores of Europe.
Sunday’s deaths happened as a rescue vessel approached the migrants, Save the Children said, citing interviews it conducted with survivors after they arrived at the port of Catania, on the Italian island of Sicily.
The Italian Coast Guard said it couldn’t confirm the charity’s report, though it said 10 bodies were recovered Sunday in three separate rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
As of mid-April, more than 1,700 people had died or gone missing this year in the sea that touches Europe, North Africa and parts of the Middle East, according to the U.N. refugee agency.
But tens of thousands more Mediterranean-crossing migrants have reached Europe. Some 36,390 people managed to safely reach Italy, Greece or Malta in the first few months of 2015, UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said last month.
Italy’s Coast Guard said that more than 3,400 migrants had been saved in 16 different operations off Libya’s coast on Saturday alone.
By Vasco Cotovio and Jason Hanna