Why Did The Migrant Boat Sink?

Officials estimate that 700 occupants are feared to have drowned during Saturday night’s fatal accident, and say this immigrant tragedy is a reoccurring problem.

Mediterranean migrant tragedy

Italian prosecutors have charged the captain of the ship from Libya that capsized 60 miles off the coast of Italy and killed 900 immigrants with reckless multiple homicide. Officials say the Tunisian captain overloaded the vessel and accidentally rammed it into the Portuguese ship coming to help the passengers to safety, causing hundreds locked below deck to drown. 

Sunday's fatal shipwreck is nothing new and actually part of a common string of reoccurring accidents and highlights the desperate, dangerous voyages individuals migrating to Europe continuously face. 

Carlotta Sami, a spokeswoman for the United Nations refugee agency, said the disaster could turn out to be “the worst massacre ever seen in the Mediterranean.”

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy said at a joint news conference on Monday with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat of Malta that ship sinking was a “game-changer”, and that if Europe did not come together to prevent such disasters “history will judge it very badly.”

Europe has been dealing with a severe migration problem as thousands migrate from Africa and the Middle East fleeing poverty and war. Just last week a migrant boat capsized off the coast of Malta and on Monday another migrant boat crashed into rocks off the Greek island of Rhodes in the Aegean Sea.  Renzi blamed Human traffickers for the incident calling them “the slave drivers of the 21st century.” Smugglers are considered responsible for the increased death toll because they cram migrants onto “rickety ships” that typically capsize.

European Union officials have outlined a package of measures in response to the high number of migrant boat accidents. The 10-point package includes improving EU's Mediterranean rescue service Triton and a stronger civil and military mandate aimed to destroy people-smugglers’ boats. Officials have also called for a crackdown on Libya where human traffickers can operate easily.

Read more: Here’s What An Arab Found When He Spent A Day In The Life Of A Poor Migrant

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