2016 becomes the worst year ever for migrant deaths in Mediterranean

This year has become the deadliest ever for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to start a new life in Europe. At least 3,800 have died attempting the perilous crossing so far this year, the UN refugee agency said. Yesterday, the agency had noted that this year’s death toll was likely to succeed the 3,771 deaths reported for the whole of last year. And, after news of another tragedy was announced today, spokesman William Spindler said in a tweet: “We’re receiving more reports of deaths in the Med. We can now confirm that at least 3,800 people have died, making 2016 the deadliest ever.”

This is the worst we have seen. The high loss of life comes despite a large overall fall this year in the number of people seeking to cross the Mediterranean to Europe

UN refugee agency spokesman William Spindler

Scores of migrants have been drowning each week as the fragile and often overcrowded boats they are in capsize or sink. Yesterday, the bodies of 25 migrant men and women were found in an inflatable dinghy in the southern Mediterranean, a medical charity said. About 107 people were rescued from the same raft. Michele Telaro, a Medecins Sans Frontieres field co-ordinator, added: “In the bottom of the boat, 25 victims of suspected fuel inhalation were hidden beneath a mixture of sea water and fuel.”

It took us three hours to retrieve 11 bodies because the mixture of petrol and water is so potent that we just couldn’t risk being in the boat for long periods of time.

Michele Telaro, an MSF field co-ordinator