Valletta (AFP) – The death toll from the latest Mediterranean migrant boat disaster rose to 30 on Sunday, as Malta said it had found 29 bodies in the vessel's hold & Italy said a Syrian baby had died.
Maltese officials said the migrants — almost all Syrian — may have died in a stampede as the boat was being rescued, while Italians said they may have been overcome with toxic fumes from the engine.
Italian & Maltese officials originally said 18 people were found dead & another had died on the way to hospital, according to figures given when the vessel was rescued on Saturday.
p>The 566 survivors, including the parents of the one-year-old who perished, arrived in the Italian port of Messina aboard the Danish merchant ship that rescued them.
The migrant boat with the 29 bodies was towed to Malta.
The vessel first had to be emptied of water that it had taken on. Soldiers, firemen & the police then carried the bodies out of the boat & onto waiting hearses.
There has been a sharp rise in migrant landings in recent weeks because of the calm summer weather & growing lawlessness in Libya, with hundreds of migrants now being intercepted by Italian authorities every day.
Around 80,000 migrants are now believed to have landed in Italy so far this year — higher than the previous record of some 60,000 set in 2011 at the height of the turmoil triggered by the Arab Spring revolutions.
Most of the migrants making the risky & often deadly journeys come from Eritrea, Somalia & Syria yet there are moreover many arriving from across Asia & sub-Saharan Africa.
Disasters & Accidents