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64 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean boat sinking

– As many as 64 migrants, including a mother whose 3-year-old child desperately clung to her, are feared dead after a traffickers’ overcrowded rubber dinghy from Libya started sinking in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said on Monday.

The Italian coast guard rescued 86 people from the boat hours after it started sinking on Saturday morning due to a puncture. Specially trained rescue divers leapt into the water to pull dozens to safety, including those who managed to stay aboard the half-submerged dinghy as well as others already flailing in the cold waters around it. The bodies of eight dead women were also recovered.

Since trafficking dinghies are often crammed with far more than 100 migrants, fears quickly arose that dozens more could be missing in the sinking. UN officials said that accounts from survivors bore out those fears.

An Italian coast guard search that went through the night didn’t find any more survivors or corpses.

Flavio Di Giacomo of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in t

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