GENEVA — A total of 3,501 refugees and migrants have drowned this year crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Friday.
The upsurge in fatalities followed the capsizing of a boat carrying between 400 and 450 migrants off the Egyptian coast on Wednesday.
IOM’s estimated death toll of the tragedy stood between 285 and 300 individuals, with the Egyptian Coast Guard reporting that as many as 240 are unaccounted for, or presumed missing.
This brought fatality figures to more than 3,500 deaths for this year, almost as many as the yearly count for 2015 and at least 200 more than were recorded in 2014.
Through mid-September this year, 2,765 people have lost their lives while crossing the central Mediterranean route linking North Africa with Italy.
More than 300,000 refugees and migrants have reached European shores since January 2016, nearly 50 percent fewer entries than were documented last year over the same period. PNA/Xinhua/northboundasia.com