ROME: Ten women died in a sinking boat packed with migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday and hundreds of other people were rescued in two separate operations, Italy’s coast guard said.
The women were found dead in a rubber boat that had taken on water, spokesman Captain Cosimo Nicastro said.
The coast guard ship Diciotti rescued 107 people from the same boat, Nicastro said, adding that the boat had taken on so much water that it was about to sink.
“It would have been a greater tragedy just a few minutes later,” he said.
He said the women likely died either of suffocation under weight of other people or by drowning at the bottom part of the rubber boat.
The same coast guard ship later rescued all 116 migrants aboard another rubber boat in distress in the same area, Nicastro said.
The latest deaths came as the wreck of a fishing boat that sank last year with up 800 people on board was due to arrive at a Sicilian port. The sunken wreck was raised on Wednesday.
Nearly 120 bodies have already been recovered from the seabed but hundreds of corpses are believed to be trapped below deck, where survivors said migrants including many women and children were locked.