Scores of migrants attempting to sail across the Mediterranean Sea are dead, and many more are missing, after two boats they were on capsized.
At least 31 individuals, including three children, have died following the sinkings on Friday. Additionally, 40 individuals remain missing, according to International Business Times.
The tragedy that occurred was made more horrific by the presence of sharks in the water, the Libyan Navy reported on its Facebook page.
It was clear that some of those who fell into the water had been bitten, and possibly killed, by the sharks, according to witness reports. Captain Nasser Al-Gammoudi divulged the gruesome details while speaking to Italian media:
"There were lots of bodies all around and we saw there were four or five sharks swimming among them, large blue sharks, a very aggressive species. When we brought the bodies on board we noticed that some of them had been bitten, so it's possible that among the missing some may have been eaten."
Two hundred individuals were rescued during the confusion after the boats sank.
There is a worse possibility, however, that some have considered following reports of the shark attacks: Marine biologists familiar with the species of shark in the Mediterranean are skeptical that sharks attacked a large group of people at all.
“White sharks and tiger sharks have been known to attack lone swimmers,” marine biologist Ezio Amato explained, adding that a coordinated group attack by sharks in the Mediterranean was unheard of.
Another expert offered a more stark assessment: “It’s possible [Libyan forces] wanted to cover up deaths provoked by their own violent intervention.”
More than 3,000 individuals have died while migrating across the Mediterranean Sea this year. The International Organization for Migration describes the body of water as “by far the world’s deadliest border” for migrants to attempt to cross.