The death toll in the capsizing off northwestern Colombia of a boat carrying migrants has risen to at least 12, seven of them children, officials said Thursday.
Another 18 people remain missing after Monday’s tragedy, when a wave upended the boat, leaving its passengers adrift at sea, according to Lilia Cordoba, the mayor of the Colombian coastal town of Acandi.
The migrants, who were trying to reach Panama, were from Africa, the regional human rights ombudsman, Rafael Bolanos, told AFP.
The Colombian navy, with help from police, found five more bodies on Thursday on top of the seven already recovered.
According to survivors, the boat was carrying 32 people — 18 adults and 14 children.
The navy said it was continuing its search and expects to find more bodies.
The Gulf of Uraba, where the boat capsized, is one of the main transit points for African, Asian and Haitian migrants trying to reach the US through the Caribbean, often making stops in Central American countries.
Since the beginning of the year, the Colombian military has rescued 84 shipwreck survivors and recovered 19 bodies.
The Tunisian navy has recovered four more corpses from a deadly shipwreck of migrants over the weekend, bringing the official number of victims to 52, the interior ministry said on Tuesday.
“The toll is now at 52 corpses recovered, 48 of which have been identified,” ministry spokesman Khalifa Chibani told AFP.
Chibani said the identified bodies belonged to “36 Tunisians and 12 foreigners”, referring to migrants from sub-Saharan Africa.
A total of 68 survivors — including 60 Tunisians — have been rescued since search operations began early Sunday off the Mediterranean coast of Tunisia’s southern city of Sfax.
Survivors said there were at least 180 people on board when the overloaded fishing vessel began to sink late Saturday night near Tunisia’s Kerkennah Islands off Sfax.
Search efforts continued Tuesday, with a helicopter flying over the island chain, according to an AFP journalist on site.
Police had deployed across the islands ahead of an anticipated visit later Tuesday by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed.
On Monday, Chahed called for greater efforts to quickly dismantle the “criminal networks that profit from these young people looking to emigrate and putting their lives in danger”.
Tunisian authorities are hunting for eight suspects, all of whom are from Kerkennah, the interior ministry said.
The shipwreck is the deadliest in the Mediterranean since February 2, when 90 people drowned off the coast of Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration.
On Monday the IOM said “at least 112 people died” in the weekend wreck, with dozens still missing based on survivors’ accounts of passenger numbers.
The Sfax sinking came as Italy’s new hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini visited the Italian island of Sicily — one of the main landing points for migrants attempting to reach Europe from Tunisia and Libya.
Salvini used the trip on Sunday to promote his anti-immigration stance, saying he would not allow Italy to become “the refugee camp” of Europe.
Tunisians and other migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean to seek a better future in Europe.
In March, 120 people — mostly Tunisians — were rescued by the navy as they tried to reach the Italian coast.
Tunisia’s navy scoured choppy waters Monday for survivors and victims of the Mediterranean’s worst shipwreck in months, with the UN migration agency warning more than 100 people may have been killed.
A total of 68 survivors were rescued Sunday off the coast of Sfax in southern Tunisia, while 48 bodies were recovered according to Tunisia’s defence ministry.
A survivor told AFP that more than 180 people were crammed onto the boat — double its capacity — when it started taking on water and sank.
“The search operation restarted at 4:00 GMT with the help of nine navy units, one helicopter and divers,” Mohammed Salah Sagaama, commander of Sfax’s naval base, told AFP.
Six hours into the search no more bodies had been recovered, he added, saying the search efforts were hampered by strong winds and limited visibility.
A spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, Flavio Di Giacomo, said 60 bodies had been recovered.
The shipwreck is the deadliest in the Mediterranean since February 2, when 90 people drowned off the coast of Libya, according to the IOM.
So far 10 Tunisians have been identified among the victims and 14 people from other African nations.
Crowds gathered in Sfax on Monday as they waited for news of friends and relatives, while others collected coffins containing the bodies of those who had drowned.
A crisis centre was set up following a government meeting led by Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, to support victims’ families and survivors.
Young ‘lives in danger’
The IOM spokesman said the death toll from the latest disaster could more than double, with around 50 people unaccounted for.
“We have 112 as an estimate of migrants who lost their lives,” Di Giacomo told AFP.
Each passenger on the fishing boat paid between 600 and 1,000 euros ($700-$1,170), he added.
Tunisia’s prime minister called for greater efforts to dismantle “as quickly as possible” the “criminal networks that profit from these young people looking to emigrate and putting their lives in danger”.
Tunisian authorities are hunting for eight suspects, all of whom are from the Kerkennah archipelago close to Sfax, an interior ministry spokesman said.
West African migrants were among the victims and Di Giacomo said the IOM has recently seen an increasing number travelling from Tunisia to Europe.
“Tunisians usually arrive with small boats, carrying no more than 50 migrants; in the past month we have started to see these big boats,” he said.
The Sfax incident came as nine Syrians including seven children drowned on Sunday when their vessel sank off the coast of Turkey as they were trying to reach Europe.
Spanish maritime rescue meanwhile said one person was reported drowned, while 240 migrants were rescued over the weekend.
More than 650 people have been recorded as dead or missing in the Mediterranean so far this year, while at least 33,270 have survived the crossing to Europe.
Persistent warnings of heavy rains this year, have led to efforts by disaster management authorities to enlighten Nigerians on how to contain the anticipated floods.
The National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has begun a workshop on flood prevention, mitigation and preparedness in Awka, Anambra State, South East Nigeria.
The South-East Zonal Director of NEMA, Dr Bamidele Onimode, explained that the measure would enableresidents cope effectively with the impact of floods but also highlighted what needs to be done to achieve better management of the expected floods.
“If emergencies are not well taken care of, it will become disaster. A comprehensive disaster management requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders and the financial resources available for disaster management are increasing becoming limited.”
Participants at the workshop, including the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Oseloka Obaze, confirmed that the ideas shared would help raise a risk management consciousness among the people.
“The important thing is that we have an operational basis on which to start and we know what to do and which facilities to look for. Where we need guidance, we’ll get it from NEMA which is quite useful to us here.”