More than 100 migrants perish in four separate shipwrecks between Libya and Italy

3 May 2016 (Last Updated May 3rd, 2016 18:30)

Over 100 migrants have died in four shipwrecks between Libya and Italy since 29 April, as this has become the most preferred sea route for people to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Over 100 migrants have died in four shipwrecks between Libya and Italy since 29 April, as this has become the most preferred sea route for people to reach Europe, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Italian officials expect more people to take this dangerous crossing from Libya as the land routes in the Balkans have closed and Greece has undertaken a programme to send migrants back to Turkey, reported Reuters.

In one of the four ship wrecks last week, a rubber dinghy was rescued by an Italian commercial ship, called Villa Bianca, a few hours after its departure from Sabrata, Libya.

“The dinghy was taking in water and was in a very bad condition. Many people had already fallen into sea and drowned, but 26 people were rescued.”

IOM Rome spokesperson Flavio Di Giacomo said: "The dinghy was taking in water and was in a very bad condition. Many people had already fallen into sea and drowned, but 26 people were rescued."

The survivors were subsequently transferred to two Italian Coast Guard ships, which then brought them to Lampedusa.

Among the 26 rescued are at least two women and five unaccompanied minors in the age bracket of 16-17.

Citing survivor testimony, the IOM said that 84 people appeared to be missing from this wreck.

Close to 30 people drowned in two other crossings in rubber dinghies at the Channel of Sicily. The IOM is still looking in to a fourth incident.

The first four months of this year saw in 1,357 migrants and refugees perish at sea, and mostly along the Central Mediterranean route, compared to 1,733 in 2015.

IOM figures show that so far this year, 28,593 migrants and refugees have arrived by sea in Italy, and 154,862 have reached Greece.