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International

Boat tragedy off Italy coast claims 80

International Desk |
Update: 2013-10-03 05:52:54
Boat tragedy off Italy coast claims 80 Photo Courtesy: Al Jazeera

DHAKA: At least 80 migrants have drowned and rescuers were trying to save about 250 people still missing near the Italian island of Lampedusa after a migrant boat caught fire and sank, Italian media reports said.

The accident occurred on Thursday morning, reports Al Jazeera.

Rescuers recovered at least 25 bodies from the waters, a spokesman of the Italian coast guard said.

Al Jazeera, from Rome, said initial reports mentioned that the boat was carrying about 500 sub-Saharan migrants.

‘Italian officials described that many of these people had been in the water since the early hours of this morning and that it was a race against time to rescue as many of them as possible,’ Al Jazeera correspondent said.

"It appears that there was a malfunction onboard and the migrants were believed to have created a small fire on board to attract the attention of the coast guard. What we can gauge from what the survivors have been saying is that the fire caused panic onboard, which caused the boat to flip over,’ the correspondent added.

More than 160 people have been plucked from the water alive in the search involving coast guard and customs boats and helicopters, officials said.

BDST: 1545 HRS, OCT 03, 2013
RoR/Jck

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