2021’s death toll from central Mediterranean crossings likely to hit 1,500 as coastguard says survivors unlikely

Almost 24 hours after the rescue operation was launched late Tuesday, coastguard officials said it was unlikely that survivors from the shipwreck would be found.

“Efforts will continue but in waters that are very cold and very deep the chances of finding anyone [alive] are decreasing by the hour,” said Nikos Kokkalas, the Hellenic coastguard’s spokesperson. “Our fear is that most simply didn’t manage to get off the boat and would have sunk with it to the bottom of the ocean.”

By late Wednesday rescuers had found the body of only one man, he said.

The incident comes less than five days after UN migration officials announced that 164 people had drowned off the coast of Libya, now the dominant transit point for people fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

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