First migrant deaths of 2018 reported in Mediterranean

Eight migrants have died, scores rescued and dozens are missing after their rubber dinghy ran into trouble off the Libyan coast. One rescue charity said those picked up had been in the sea for several hours.

Italian coastguard

Italy’s coastguard said on Saturday it had retrieved the bodies of eight migrants and rescued a further 84 from a smugglers’ dinghy which capsized in the Mediterranean.

The partly-submerged vessel was spotted early in the day by a surveillance aircraft around 64 kilometers (40 miles) off Libya’s coast. The pilot then alerted the Italian navy and coastguard vessels to launch a rescue operation.

The coastguard said dozens of other people who were on board are missing.

German rescue charity “Sea-watch” said on Twitter that at least 25 people died in the incident, but acknowledged that exact numbers were still unclear.

The coastguard told the charity that some 150 people had been aboard.

Rescue ‘took hours’

The Spanish rescue group known as “Proactiva Open Arms” said in a tweet that “dozens of other passengers will never be found. It described how many migrants were in the water for hours before being saved.

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