29 people found dead off Libya in migrant boat horror

\ Rome, Oct 26 (AFP) The French aid group Doctors without\Borders (MSF) said today it had found the bodies of 29\migrants who perished in a pool of fuel and seawater on a\crowded dinghy off Libya.\ The find adds to the grim evidence of the hazards of\crossing the Mediterranean — a journey that the UN said today\has claimed more than 3,800 lives so far this year, a record.\ MSF said its chartered rescue ship, the Bourbon Argos,\picked up 107 people aboard the inflatable boat 26 nautical\miles off Libya yesterday.\ Its crew initially counted 11 corpses on the dinghy\\’s\floor, which was flooded with a murky mixture of fuel and\seawater.\ The Bourbon Argos was then called away to another rescue\operation nearby, saving 139 people aboard another vessel.\ The crew returned to the dinghy and found on closer\examination that 29 people had died, probably from\suffocation, skin burns or drowning.\ The bodies were retrieved from the toxic mixture over a\period of hours, with the help of a team from the German NGO\Sea-Watch.\ \\"The mixture of water and fuel was so foul that we couldot stay on the boat for long periods. It was horrible,\\" MSF\project leader Michele Telaro said in a statement.\ Twenty-three survivors suffered burns from exposure to\fuel, 11 of whom were seriously hurt. Seven survivors were\taken to hospital, two of them by helicopter.\ The MSF team also provided psychological help to\survivors, including a man who was left clutching his\eight-month-old baby after his wife died.\ \\"It\\’s a tragedy, but sadly one cannot say that this was\an exceptional day in the Mediterranean,\\" said Stefano\Argenziano, in charge of MSF\\’s migrant assistance activities.\ \\"Last week was terrible for our teams. They were engaged\around the clock in rescue operations in which too many men,\women and children lost their lives.\\"\ To venture out to sea in such conditions, said Argenziano\bluntly, \\"is a headlong rush to the cemetery.\\"\ In Geneva, the UN\\’s refugee agency said fatalities on the\Mediterranean migrant route had set a new, tragic record.\ \\"We can confirm that at least 3,800 people have been\reported dead or missing in the Mediterranean Sea so far this\year, making the death toll in 2016 the highest ever\recorded,\\" spokesman William Spindler told AFP in an email, as\the figures passed last year\\’s mark of 3,771.\ In Rome, Pope Francis pleaded on behalf of migrants and\foreigners seeking a better life or safe haven abroad. (AFP)\\PRG\


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