500 migrants feared drowned off Malta coast, IOM says

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 11:04 AM

GENEVA (Reuters) - Some 500 migrants are believed to have died in the Mediterranean after traffickers rammed their boat off Malta's coast last week, the International Organization for Migration said on Monday.

"Survivors have testified that the traffickers arrived aboard two boats and ordered the migrants to change vessels in the middle of the sea. The migrants said it was too dangerous and refused. There was a violent altercation and the traffickers used their boat to ram the migrants' boat," IOM spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told Reuters.

"Some 500 people were on board - Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese. They were trying to reach Europe."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)