Migrant shipwreck survivors arrive in Sicily

Trapani (Italy), Jan 17 (IANS/AKI) Thirty-eight migrants reached the western Sicilian port of Trapani on Tuesday after they were rescued from a shipwreck in the Mediterranean in which they claim nearly 200 people perished.

The migrants docked in Trapani aboard the private Norwegian rescue vessel Siem Pilot. A team of psychologists was on board the ship to counsel the migrants. Their nationalities were not stated.

Up to 180 migrants may have died in the shipwreck off Libya on Saturday, after spending several hours in the water in freezing conditions, according to the United Nations.

“We spend the night listening to the testimonies of survivors. Some 180 people are said to have drowned after frigid hours in the open sea,” tweeted UN refugee agency UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami.

The migrant crossings show no sign of slowing down on the Mediterranean route despite freezing winter weather.

A total 2,876 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea this year till January 15, arriving mostly in Greece and Italy, the International Organisation for Migration said on Monday.

The arrivals compared with 23,664 through the first 14 days of January, 2016, IOM said.

There were an estimated 219 deaths from 1-15 January, against 91 during the first two weeks of 2015, IOM said.

The January toll to date is set to rise to at least 420 people if the alleged fatalities from Saturday’s shipwreck off Libya and the deaths of 21 migrants including women and children reported missing off the Moroccan coast on Friday are confirmed, said IOM.