More than 100 migrants rescued

Migrants, part of a group intercepted aboard a dinghy off the coast in the Mediterranean Sea, rest after arriving on a rescue boat at the Port of Malaga, Spain on December 7, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 10 December 2017
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More than 100 migrants rescued

MADRID: Spain’s maritime rescue service said it has saved 104 migrants trying to make the perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from North Africa.
The service said its rescue craft Guardamar Concepcion Arenal intercepted two boats carrying 53 and 22 migrants each overnight and early Sunday in the Strait of Gibraltar. The same rescue vessel also took on board another 25 migrants that a Civil Guard patrol craft had picked up at sea.
Another rescue craft, the Salvamar Denebola, later spotted a tiny rubber boat carrying four more migrants that it took to shore.
Separately, sources said Libya’s UN-backed government agreed with Italy on Saturday to establish a joint operations room for tackling migrant smugglers and traffickers to curb migrant flows toward Europe.
Libya is the main gateway for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities have begun to block departures under Italian pressure. More than 600,000 have made the journey over the past four years.
The agreement to set up the operations room was announced after a meeting in Tripoli between the head of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), Fayez Seraj, Libyan Interior Minister Aref Khodja, and his Italian counterpart Marco Minniti.
A statement from Seraj’s office said the center would consist of “representatives from the coast guard, the illegal migration department, the Libyan attorney general and the intelligence services, along with their Italian counterparts.”
No details were given on the location of the center and how it would operate. In the past, migrant smugglers have worked with impunity in western Libya, where the GNA has little authority over armed groups that have real power on the ground.


Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

Updated 23 September 2018
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Families bury victims as Tanzania ferry disaster toll passes 200

  • Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat
  • With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya

UKARA, Tanzania: Grieving families were on Sunday preparing to bury victims of Tanzania’s devastating ferry disaster, with more than 200 confirmed dead after the crowded boat capsized in Lake Victoria.
Hopes were fading of finding any more survivors three days after the ferry sank on Thursday, even after rescuers pulled out an engineer who had managed to find refuge in an air pocket in the upturned vessel.
“We are going to start burying bodies not yet identified by relatives,” said John Mongella, governor of Mwanza region, where the MV Nyerere ferry had been coming in to dock on the island of Ukara.
“The (burial) ceremony will be overseen by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, in the presence of clergy members of different denominations,” Mongella said Saturday on TBC 1 public television.
Divers were also set to continue their grim search in the waters around the boat, where late Saturday they were watched by anxious crowds gathered just meters (yards) away on Ukara’s shore.
Mongella said 218 people had been confirmed dead, while 41 escaped the tragedy with their lives — a total figure far above the official capacity of the boat, which was in theory only able to carry 101 passengers.
One survivor was an engineer who shut himself into a “special room” with enough air for him to stay alive until he was found, said local lawmaker Joseph Mkundi.
Transport Minister Isack Kamwelwe said on Saturday that 172 of the victim’s bodies had been identified by relatives.
State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island. It was market day, which usually sees the vessel packed with people and goods.
Witnesses told AFP the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock. Others blamed the captain, saying he had made a brusque maneuver.
Dozens of wooden coffins lined the shore on Saturday, waiting to be seen by families as police and volunteers sought to keep hundreds of curious locals at bay.
Aisha William came to collect the body of her husband. “He left on Tuesday around noon, but he never came home. I do not know how I am going to raise my two children,” she said.
Ahmed Caleb, a 27-year-old trader, railed at a tragedy “which could have been prevented. I’ve lost my boss, friends, people I went to school with,” he sighed.
The aging vessel, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible above water, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas and cement, when it capsized.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Friday ordered the arrest of the ferry’s management and declared four days of national mourning.
In a speech broadcast on TBC 1, Magufuli said “it appears clear that the ferry was overloaded,” adding that the government would cover the funeral expenses of the victims.
With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers, oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
It is not uncommon for ferries to capsize in the lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.