64 feared dead after smuggling boat sinks in Mediterranean

As many as 64 African migrants, including a mother whose surviving 3-year-old child desperately clung to her as she drowned, are feared dead after a traffickers' overcrowded rubber dinghy from Libya started sinking in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said Monday.

The Italian coast guard rescued 86 people from the boat hours after it started sinking Saturday morning after it took on water and started deflating, a U.N. migration agency official said.

Specially trained rescue divers leapt into the water to pull dozens to safety, including those who managed to stay aboard the half-submerged dinghy as well as others already flailing in nearby cold waters.

Eight bodies were recovered on Saturday. Officials at the time said the corpses were all women, but U.N. migration officials who met the rescue ship when it arrived Monday in Catania, Sicily, said two of the eight dead were adult men.

Since trafficking dinghies are often crammed with far more than 100 migrants, fears quickly arose Saturday that dozens more could be missing in the sinking. An Italian coast guard search that went through the night didn't find any more survivors or corpses.

Flavio Di Giacomo of the International Organization for Migration said in tweet Monday that survivors interviewed by the agency in Catania said 150 people had been aboard the dinghy when it set out from a Libyan beach east of Tripoli.

"Sixty-four migrants lost their life in the shipwreck (which) occurred last Saturday," Di Giacomo said, saying "probabl....

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