At least 31 migrants drowned after an inflatable boat carrying 500 people capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, Italian Coast Guard said.

The tragedy occurred some 50 km off the coast of Libya on Wednesday, when the dinghy was struck by a large wave and keeled to one side, causing 200 people to fall into the sea, Efe news reported.

The coast guard, along with a tow boat and a ship belonging to the Maltese NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station, rescued some of the migrants from the sea and picked up those who remained on the raft, but they also found at least 31 corpses floating in the water.

“Not a scene from a horror movie…Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe’s doorstep today!” MOAS founder Christopher Catrambone tweeted, alongside a picture that showed many people in the water.

The precarious vessel had departed on Tuesday night from the port city of Zuwara, in northern Libya.

More than 50,000 migrants have reached Italy so far in 2017, a 46 per cent increase compared to last year, according to data provided by the Italian interior ministry.

First Published | 25 May 2017 1:17 AM
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