Up to 245 missing after 2 Mediterranean shipwrecks

Fleeing Libya Most of the activity so far this year is from the Libya to Italy route, as well as to Spain.

The two shipwrecks took place on Friday and Sunday, but details did not emerge until later. Some 163 people are feared dead or missing during this particular incident. It has slaughtered migrants on the high seas, sunk boats, attacked humanitarian groups attempting to aid the refugees and profited off of collaboration with smugglers.

"Our field colleagues providing direct assistance at the harbours reported that many migrants bore signs of torture", he said.

Overall, UNHCR said Tuesday that more than 1,300 people have disappeared and are believed to have died this year while crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa to Italy, and some 43,000 migrants and asylum-seekers reached Italy.

Illegal migrants arrive by boat at a naval base after they were rescued by Libyan coastguard in the coastal city of Tripoli, Libya, May 10, 2017.

Pouilly said the two latest shipwrecks came amid favourable weather over the weekend and improved sea conditions.

Melilla's interior ministry said most of the migrants have been pushed back by police but around 100 managed to enter the city amid clashes that let three migrants and a police officer in need of treatment.

Ruben Neugebauer, a spokesman for Sea-Watch, said the NGO had received instruction from Italy's coastguard control centre in Rome that the Libyan coastguard would be taking over "on-scene command", and that the Sea-Watch ship had stopped to await further instructions.

The Nigerian survivor told the AP their smugglers gave them neither compass nor satellite phone.

As IOM points out, more than 41,000 migrants have arrived in Italy since the beginning of this year, more than 5,000 in Greece and nearly 2,500 in Spain.

So far, the number of Mediterranean migrant arrivals this year approaches 50,000, with 1,309 deaths, according to the United Nations migration agency. That was because some 155,000 arrived in Greece from Turkey, compared with only 5,555 this year. Gino Maceli contributed from Pozzallo, Sicily.

  • David Armstrong