(From agencies)

Between 200 and 400 Somalis are feared to have drowned (Watch the video clip) in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to cross illegally to Italy from Libya.

41 African migrants were rescued from the semi-submerged rubber dinghy
41 African migrants were said to have been rescued from the semi-submerged rubber dinghy

The 41 survivors said some 240 of them were transferred to another vessel already carrying over 300 passengers when it sank in the middle of the night, BBC reported.

According to them, around 500 people died. The survivors were picked up by a Norwegian ship.

Somalia’s president, prime minister and speaker of parliament issued a joint condolence to the nation on Monday over the unconfirmed report.

Reports of the drownings are circulating among families and on social media but so far remain unconfirmed by coast guard authorities in Italy, Greece, Libya or Egypt.

Analysis: Libyan smuggling route grows 1 year after mass drowning

Somalia’s state radio quoted the Somali embassy in Egypt when reporting the incident.

The joint statement from the Somali leaders said that 400 migrants, mostly Somalis, drowned when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea on a trip from Libya to Italy. But the Somali information minister later said that 200 drowned. Later reports said even fewer had drowned.

“It’s a painful tragedy which reminds us all how important it is for us to discourage our youth from embarking on such high risk journeys,” the leaders’ joint statement said.

Many people saw on Facebook the “I am Somali” page with a montage of photos of young people who it said were Somalis who had drowned. It was not possible to verify the identities of those in the post.

“Very painful, death of nearly 400 Somalian young men and women near the Egyptian coast … most of them are students in Sudanese and Egyptian universities,” said one post. Read More

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