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Lampedusa shipwreck: Dozens dead including children after migrant ship sank HOURS after starting treacherous journey

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DOZENS of migrants are dead after their ship sank just mere hours into their treacherous journey to Italy.

At least 41 people, including children, have died in the shipwreck off the island of Lampedusa, survivors of the disaster said.

Four people were rescued after spending several days at sea in an empty boat they found

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Four people were rescued after spending several days at sea in an empty boat they foundCredit: AFP
Survivors said at least three children were onboard the doomed vessel

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Survivors said at least three children were onboard the doomed vesselCredit: Sea-Watch International

The 20ft boat had set off from Sfax in Tunisia with 45 people onboard, including three children, on Thursday.

But it ran into trouble only six hours after departing when a huge wave slammed into the doomed vessel.

The ship began to take on water as soon as it reached the open sea.

“Suddenly we were overwhelmed by a giant wave,” one survivor told the coastguard.

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Only 15 migrants were wearing lifejackets, although this seems to have failed to save their lives.

Four survivors – a 13-year-old boy, two men and a woman – floated on inner tubes and lifejackets before finding another empty boat.

Stranded at sea, they spent several days drifting in the water before they were finally rescued,  German rescue charity Sea-Watch said.

Heartwrenching images show the survivors frantically waving for help as rescuers approached.

The group was initially saved by the Maltese-flagged bulk carrier Rimona in the Straits of Sicily, according to reports.

The Italian coastguard later took over and transported them to Lampedusa.

Local public prosecutor Salvatore Vella said he had opened an investigation into the tragedy.

The survivors, originally from the Ivory Coast and Guinea, arrived in Lampedusa on Wednesday suffering from exhaustion and shock.

Doctor Adrian Chiaramonte said they had received treatment for minor injuries.

He said: “What really struck us was the story of the tragedy.

“They said they had encountered a first ship, which had apparently ignored them.

“An hour later they were spotted by a helicopter, and an hour after that sighting, they were picked up by an oil tanker.”

Two shipwrecks in the area were reported by the Italian coast guard on Sunday, but it is unclear whether it referred to the migrant’s boat.

Over 1,800 people have died during the deadly crossing from North Africa to Europe so far this year.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said those onboard would have had little chance of survival.

A spokesman for the United Nations agency said: “Sub-Saharan migrants [leaving from Tunisia] are forced to use these low-cost iron boats which break after 20 or 30 hours of navigation.

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“With this kind of sea, these boats capsize easily.”

According to The Guardian, like half the boats used recently in crossings from Tunisia, the boat did not have an engine.


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