Human traffickers kill 500 migrants by ramming their boat off the coast of Malta after they refused to switch to one of their boats
Criminals deliberately rammed boat packed with migrants in Mediterranean
They were angry that passengers refused to move on to smaller vessels
Boat suffered severe damage, causing it to sink and leaving up to 500 dead
News of incident comes as dozens of migrants died off Libya this morning
Boat carrying 250 Africans to Europe capsized just 11 miles from the coast
The International Organization for Migration says about 500 migrants are feared dead after their boat was deliberately rammed, causing it to sink off the Malta coast last week.
Christiane Berthiaume, spokeswoman for the organisation, said witnesses claim that the boat left Damietta in Egypt earlier this month with Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese on board.
It sank last Wednesday after a group of human traffickers deliberately rammed it with another boat when the passengers refused to transfer on to smaller vessels, she added.
News of the shocking incident comes as dozens died when a boat carrying at least 250 Africans to Europe capsized before it even managed to leave the Libyan coast this morning.
Only nine people are believed to have survived the shocking incident, with most of these transported by helicopter for treatment in Greece.
The news comes as dozens of people died when a boat carrying at least 250 African migrants to Europe capsized before it even managed to leave the Libyan coast this morning.
The incident occurred near the capital Tripoli this morning according to Qassim Ayoub, the spokesman for Libya’s coastguard.
He said divers are still retrieving bodies floating roughly 11 miles off the coast of Tripoli’s Tajoura district, adding that 36 migrants, including three women – one of them pregnant – were saved.
Libya has grown increasingly lawless since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Moammar Gadhafi, making it a migration hub for sub-Saharan Africans seeking a better life.
Thousands are killed every year on the dangerous cross-Mediterranean journey to Europe on board massively overcrowded ships that are often old and in poor condition – causing many of them to sink.
The intended destination more often than not is Southern Italy – particularly the island of Lampedusa and the coastline of Ragusa province in Sicily – and in nearby Malta.
Refugee numbers have since swelled as thousands of people flee conflicts in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East and Africa, boarding unsafe smugglers’ boats in Libya.
So far, nearly 110,000 people have been rescued since January, but at least 1,889 others have died making the perilous crossing, the U.N. refugee agency said.