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Over 500 migrants feared dead after human traffickers ‘deliberately’ sink boat

Report by RT : “As many as 700 would-be asylum seekers are feared dead after a group of human traffickers allegedly sank their boat in the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Monday, citing surviving witnesses.

The dreadful details of the shipwreck were told by two Palestinians, who were saved by a freighter boat Thursday.

Earlier, the survivors said that there were 500 people on board.

“Two survivors brought to Sicily told us that there had been at least 500 people on board. Nine other survivors were rescued by Greek and Maltese ships, but all the rest appear to have perished,” Flavio Di Giacomo, IOM’s spokesman in Italy, told AFP on Monday.

The witnesses said that the boat left Damietta, Egypt, in early September with Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese on board, according to IOM spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume.

They added that the boat sank Wednesday after a group of human traffickers rammed it with another boat as the asylum seekers refused to transfer to another vessel which they feared was too small.

After the boat sank, both Palestinians spent a day in the water fighting for their lives, IOM said, citing the witnesses. One of them was in a lifejacket, while the other was holding on to a life buoy with other migrants who did not survive. The Palestinians said that among them was a young Egyptian boy who hoped to make money in Europe to pay for his father’s heart operation.

“If this story, which police are investigating, is true, it would be the worst shipwreck in years… not an accident but a mass murder, perpetrated by criminals without scruples or any respect for human life,” IOM said in a statement Monday.”