54 Africans die at sea attempting to enter ItalyBy XINHUA | Wednesday, July 11 2012 at 11:02
A total of 54 people died in the Mediterranean Sea in a failed attempt to reach the Italian shores from Libya, UNHCR said on Tuesday.
According to the UN refugee agency, which quoted the only survivor of the accident, the 54 died from dehydration during their 15 day journey.
Over half of the dead were said to have come from Eritrea.
Fishermen found the survivor off the Tunisian coast on Monday night. They alerted the Tunisian Coast Guard who later rescued the man who was immediately taken to hospital.
He told UNHCR field officer that the boat left Tripoli in Libya in late June.
A day later, the boat reached the Italian coast, but high winds forced it back to sea.
Within a few days, the inflatable boat was punctured and air started to leak out.
The survivor said there was no water on board and people started to die from dehydration within days.
According to UNHCR, over 1,300 people have arrived in Italy by boat this year from Libya and another 1,000 landed in Malta.
The UN humanitarian agency estimated that some 170 people had so far been declared dead or lost at sea attempting to make the journey from Libya to Europe.
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