54 Africans died at sea during voyage to Italy

July 11th, 2012 - 8:54 am ICT by IANS  

Geneva, July 11 (IANS)A total of 54 people have died in the Mediterranean sea while attempting to reach the Italian shores from Libya, Xinhua quoted the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as saying.

These people were riding a boat and died of dehydration during their 15-day trip, UN agency cited a man who miraculously survived in the tragedy as saying Tuesday.

The boat had left from Tripoli in Libya in late June. A day later the boat reached the Italian coast, but high winds forced the boat back to sea, the survivor told an UNHCR official.

Within a few days the inflatable boat was punctured and air started to leak out. There
was no water onboard and people started to die from dehydration within days, he added.

Over half of the deceased were said to have come from Eritrea.

Fishermen found the survivor off the Tunisian coast Monday night and alerted the Tunisian Coast Guard who later rescued the man.

According to UNHCR, over 1,300 people have arrived in Italy from Libya by boat this year. Another 1,000 people landed in Malta.

The UN humanitarian agency estimated that some 170 people have so far been declared dead or lost at sea attempting to make the journey from Libya to Europe this year.

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