UNHCR: At least 880 migrants died trying to cross Mediterranean

At least 880 migrants died trying to cross the Mediterranean last week, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said Tuesday, raising the number after learning of more sea accidents in recent days.

The odds of dying on the route from North Africa to Italy currently stand at 1 in 23, said UNCHR spokesman William Spindler in Geneva.

In addition to three shipwrecks on this route that have caused at least 700 deaths, the agency reported that 47 people were missing after a raft carrying 125 people from Libya deflated last week.

Eight people were said to have gone overboard on a separate boat, and another four people reportedly died in a fire on yet another vessel.

So far this year, 2,510 migrants have died in the Mediterranean, 655 more than in the same period last year.

"Smugglers are becoming more ruthless and the boats are not even meant to make the crossing," Spindler said, adding that they will often call the coastguard immediately after sending passengers out.

Last update: Tue, 31/05/2016 - 13:54

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