Witnesses Say Ship With Up to 600 Refugees Sank Off Libyan Coast

Foreign evacuees gather on the deck of a ship evacuating injured residents and stranded foreign refugees from the battered Libyan city of Misrata to Benghazi, on board the Ionian Spirit ferry in the Mediterranean Sea, off the Libyan coast Thursday, April 21, 2011. (AP)

Up to 600 refugees were lost off the coast of Libya after their ship broke apart at sea.
The AP reported:

A ship carrying up to 600 migrants trying to flee Libya has sunk just off the coast of the North African country, the U.N. Refugee Agency said Monday, citing witness accounts.

The agency is trying to confirm what happened to the passengers when the vessel broke apart at sea shortly after leaving a port near Libya’s capital Tripoli on Friday, spokeswoman Laura Boldrini said.

There was no information on how many people might have died, and the uprising in Libya makes any official accounting unlikely.

Witnesses who departed on another boat shortly after reported seeing the ship broken apart and bodies floating in the sea, Boldrini said. The second boat with witnesses aboard arrived later in Italy, she said.

The number of migrants fleeing North Africa’s shores have increased since the region has been engulfed in a series of uprisings.

At least three other boats that departed Libya in late March have disappeared, with hundreds feared dead, Boldrini said.

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