UN: Weekend shipwreck deadliest ever in Mediterranean

World Today

Local residents and rescue workers help a migrant woman after a boat carrying migrants sank off the island of Rhodes, southeastern Greece, on April 20, 2015. At least three people, including a child, died when a boat carrying more than 80 migrants sank off the Greek island of Rhodes today, police said. AFP PHOTO / EUROKINISSI / ARGIRIS MANTIKOS Local residents and rescue workers help a migrant woman after a boat carrying migrants sank off the island of Rhodes, southeastern Greece, on April 20, 2015. At least three people, including a child, died when a boat carrying more than 80 migrants sank off the Greek island of Rhodes today, police said. AFP PHOTO / EUROKINISSI / ARGIRIS MANTIKOS

The United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday that it believes more than 800 people drowned when a boat packed with migrants trying to reach Europe sank on Saturday, making it the worst such incident ever in the Mediterranean.

New details of the tragedy were emerging as the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and other aid agencies interviewed the handful of survivors who arrived overnight in Catania, Sicily.

Survivors put the number of passengers on board the three-deck fishing trawler at 850, according to UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards in Geneva. Only 24 bodies were recovered, in addition to the 28 survivors.

The International Organization for Migration said the 2015 rate of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean is much higher than last year, when a total of 3,279 migrants died. That, in turn, was much higher than in 2013, when around 700 died, IOM said.

So far this year, 1,776 have died, according to the U.N. refugee agency, which also estimates that 219,000 people made the crossing last year.

Report by the Associated Press.