The Slatest

Shipwreck in Mediterranean Kills as Many as 400 Migrants Trying to Reach Italy

The remnants of boats used by the illegal immigrants on the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2002.

Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

A boat full of migrants heading for Italy flipped some 24 hours after departing Libya, killing as many as 400 in the Mediterranean. It’s still not completely clear when exactly the accident took place over the past several days. Most of the boat’s approximately 550 passengers were from sub-Saharan Africa, according to the nongovernmental organization Save the Children.

“[The] death toll from that vessel would mark one of the largest losses of migrants’ lives at sea yet, bringing the number of people who have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean so far this year to a new record,” the Wall Street Journal reports. “The [Italian] coast guard said Tuesday … that 8,480 migrants have been rescued since the start of last weekend. On Monday alone, the rescues involved people who had been traveling on 20 different vessels carrying migrants coming from Syria and sub-Saharan Africa.”

Italy has struggled to deal with the wave of migrants attempting to reach the country illegally that has spiked of late due to more temperate weather and regional unrest in Libya, Syria, and beyond. “Italian authorities say more than 15,000 migrants have arrived so far in 2015,” Agence France Presse reports. “There were 15,000 in April alone last year and an average of 25,000 each month between June and September.”