The bodies of 21 women and one man were found Wednesday in a boat in the Mediterranean sea by lifeguards. They have, moreover, rescued during the day over 550 people.
A ship of the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders (DWB), Aquarius, discovered them during a passenger rescue operation. The bodies were found in two inflatable boats that had sailed a few hours earlier towards the Italian coast.
Two hundred and nine people, mostly migrants from countries in West Africa, were be rescued and transported to Sicily aboard a ship of DWB. According to the organization, the 22 bodies were found in a pool of fuel in one of the two boats.
“We still do not really know what happened, but it’s a horrible death. It’s tragic,” said Jens Pagotto, coordinator of search and rescue operations within DWB, reported by Reuters.
“It seems that the mixture of water and fuel and the vapors that were released made them unconscious,” he added.
For their part, the Italian Coast Guard announced that 354 people had been rescued by the Phoenix, a vessel chartered by the MOAS Foundation (Migrant offshore aid station).
Over 3,200 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean Tuesday during 25 operations. The number of migrants arriving in Italy this year amounted to more than 80,000, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Most of them are Africans.
Since 2014, more than 10,000 migrants have died or gone missing trying to reach Europe by sea, mostly in the central Mediterranean, according to UNHCR.