MILAN: Ten people were found dead at the bottom of an overcrowded wooden boat packed with 99 surviving migrants and refugees who were rescued off Libya, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said.
The victims suffocated while the packed boat listed at sea for over 13 hours, the group said, lamenting "10 avoidable deaths. Like the other 1,225 who have lost their lives" crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe so far this year.
A rescue ship operated by Doctors Without Borders responded after volunteers conducting aerial surveillance confirmed a distress call coming from about 30 kilometers (20 miles) off the Libyan coast.
The Geo Barents now is carrying 186 people, the youngest of whom is 10 months old.
More than 59,000 asylum-seekers have reached Italian shores so far this year, 50 per cent more than last year but far from the numbers who risked their lives on rickety smugglers' boats during 2014-2017.