An international search for survivors has been called off after rescue ships were called to aid other migrant boats in the area. More than 200 people are believed to have drowned when the overcrowded boat capsized.
An international search team for survivors off the coast of Libya was called off on Thursday after rescue ships received calls to aid more migrant boats in a nearby area of the Mediterranean Sea.
More than 200 people are believed to have drowned on Wednesday when a smuggling boat carrying migrants from Libya to Europe’s southern shores capsized.
“What happened here was because the boat was so overloaded and the conditions were such that the boat started taking on water and it listed to one size, capsized and sank, all in the space of two minutes,” Reuters news agency cited Ireland’s Defence Minister Simon Coveney telling Irish state radio RTE.
Survivors arrive in Palermo
Vessels from the Italian and Irish navies, along with one from humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF), responded to the tragedy, saving at least 370 people in the process, according to the Italian coast guard.
At least 25 bodies were recovered an international rescue operation, however, overnight searches did not yield new discoveries.
The Irish naval vessel Le Niamh – part of the EU Triton mission – arrived on Thursday in the Italian port of Palermo, where the majority of the survivors disembarked.
Wednesday’s tragedy marks the largest migrant incident on the Mediterranean since April, when approximately 800 migrants drowned after their boat capsized.
Meanwhile, Europe has been widely criticized for its response to the migrant crisis, forcing it to bolster the Triton program after April’s disaster.
“Migration is not a popular or pretty topic. It is easy to cry in front of your TV set when witnessing these tragedies. It is harder to stand up and take responsibility,” said a statement issued by EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avrampoulos and First Vice-President Franz Timmermans.
“What we need now is the collective courage to follow through with concrete action on words that will otherwise ring empty,” the statement concluded.
More than 2,000 migrants have died crossing the Mediterranean in 2015, marking a significant increase compared to the same period last year.