Published On: Sat, Aug 15th, 2015

At least 40 migrants die in Mediterranean – Italy navy

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At least 40 migrants died on Saturday in the hold of an overcrowded smuggling boat in the Mediterranean Sea north of Libya, apparently killed by fuel fumes, and some 320 others on the same boat were saved by the Italian navy, the rescue ship’s commander said.

Migrants by the tens of thousands are braving the perilous journey across the Mediterranean this year, hoping to reach Europe and be granted asylum. They are fleeing war, persecution and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

The victims are thought to have suffocated after inhaling fumes from fuel after the boat took on water in the hold, the captain of the navy ship leading the rescue said on Italian state television.

Commander Massimo Tozzi, speaking from the ship, said that when his men boarded the migrant boat they found the dead in the hold “immersed in water, fuel and human excrement”.

Migrants who have arrived in Italy say human traffickers based in lawless Libya charge them between $1,200 and $1,800 for a place on the deck of boats. Those crammed in the hold pay about half as much as those above.

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