Italy arrests trafficker after seven migrants dies from hypothermia

Most of the 287 people on board the illegal boat were suffering from the harsh winter cold when they were found



Crew members of the 'Ocean Viking' rescue ship, operated by French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), stand ready on board of a 'rhib', an inflatable dinghy, as they approach an inflatable boat carrying some 85 migrants on August 9, 2019, during their first rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. - For volunteers who come to the rescue of migrants in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, panic in makeshift boats is the enemy that risks taking everything away. In recent years, many deadly accidents off the coast of Libya have occurred as a result of a crowd movement, just as the migrants were seeing help after hours or even days of anguish at sea. (Photo by Anne CHAON / AFP)
Crew members of the 'Ocean Viking' rescue ship, operated by French NGOs SOS Mediterranee and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), stand ready on board of a "rhib", an inflatable dinghy, as they approach an inflatable boat carrying some 85 migrants on August 9, 2019, during their first rescue operation in the Mediterranean Sea. - For volunteers who come to the rescue of migrants in distress in the Mediterranean Sea, panic in makeshift boats is the enemy that risks taking everything away. In recent years, many deadly accidents off the coast of Libya have occurred as a result of a crowd movement, just as the migrants were seeing help after hours or even days of anguish at sea. (Photo by Anne CHAON / AFP)

By AFP

Published: Sat 19 Feb 2022, 3:43 PM

Italian police said Saturday they had arrested an Egyptian suspected of trafficking migrants across the Mediterranean during a trip that left seven people dead from hypothermia.

The suspect is accused of organising the dangerous crossing by a boat carrying 287 people from Libya. Most were suffering from the cold when they were rescued by the coast guard on January 25.

Police in the Sicilian city of Agrigento said in a statement that the ordeal on the overcrowded, 16-metre boat ended “with the death, by hypothermia, of seven Bangladeshi citizens, due to the inhumane conditions of the voyage”.

The 38-year-old suspect, who was identified through witness testimony of survivors, had already been sentenced for a 2011 people smuggling crime in Sicily, police said, without providing further detail.

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Winter weather has not been a deterrent for migrants crossing the Mediterranean this year despite freezing temperatures and rough seas.

So far this year, some 10,570 migrants have reached Europe by sea, out of a total of 11,986, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Some 229 have died or gone missing in the attempt to reach the continent.


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