Dhaka: Around 30 to 35 Bangladeshi nationals are feared dead off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea after their boat capsized while trying to enter Italy illegally, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Dr Ak Abdul Momen said.
“As per our information, there were 51 Bangladeshi in the boat carrying 75 illegal migrants. So far, 14 Bangladeshis were rescued and the rest are still missing.... so, we can fear at least 30 to 35 of our nationals have died,” he told members of the press.
Momen said Bangladesh's ambassador in Tripoli had already sent officials to Tunisia to look into the incident.
The foreign minister said the Bangladesh embassy in Libya had been in contact with the Red Crescent in Tunisia.
The boat left from Libya and capsized off the coast of Tunisia, according to authorities.
Momen confirmed that Bangladesh was currently not sending workers to war-torn Libya. The migrants on the boat, he added, had most likely entered Libya with the help of human traffickers.
Noting that these types of tragic incidents have been going on for a longtime, the minister said “I don’t know how to stop it.”
According to the UNHCR, at least 65 migrants died in the incident.
Survivors told the Red Crescent that the tragedy unfolded after around 75 people who had left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast late Thursday on a large boat were transferred to a smaller one that sank off the coast of Tunisia.
Survivors said the boat was heading for Italy.
“This is a tragic and terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean,” said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR Special Envoy for the Mediterranean.