When a ship carrying 600 people broke apart in Tripoli harbor on Friday, almost nobody survived. But one man did, and it was the second time he'd been in that situation. What awful luck.
Further news of Friday's sinking broke with a vengeance yesterday, the details of its tremendous overloading and position within a few hundred yards of shore adding to the tragedy. Today come the reports of the astonishingly high death toll. "We do know that there were some survivors who did know how to swim and managed to get to the beach but we believe that there were only a few," U.N. refugee agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told the Associated Press.
The sinking led the United Nations to issue a call for passengers and crews of ships in the Mediterranean to report unseaworthy ships as it tries to stem the tide of refugees heading from Africa--in particular Libya--to Europe in deadly conditions.
But the refugees will keep coming, reports indicate. According to the AP story, Libyan officials looking to lessen the burden on that country's resources are herding refugees onto ships at gunpoint. "A spokesman for Moammar Gadhafi suggested that increased illegal immigration was the price European nations would pay for their military and political support of the rebels trying to topple Libya's strongman."
Many want nothing more than to make it to Europe from their war-torn homelands. CNN reports that one of the few survivors of Friday's shipwreck was Ibrahim Abdi, a migrant worker from Somalia, who survived an earlier sinking on April 26. "Even risking death is better than the way we're living now," he told CNN. Friday's disaster comes after two ships carrying a combined 410 disappeared after departing from Libya since the end of March. A shipwreck on April 4 killed 250, according to the report.
Still, Abdi, like many in his position said he would continue trying to make the crossing.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.