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People traffickers deliberately drown 500 migrants off Malta, say witnesses


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People traffickers deliberately drown 500 migrants off Malta, say witnesses

Six survivors of the suspected deliberate drowning of 500 migrants by people traffickers off the coast of Malta have been recounting events.

The six, rescued by the Greek coastguard, say they left the Egyptian port of Damietta en route to Italy escorted by the criminal gang.

The traffickers demanded they change boat several times until the migrants, fearing the vessels were unsafe, rebelled and a confrontation took place.

The smugglers then forced a number of people into the water and deliberately rammed the boat and waited in the area until the ship had sunk before sailing off.

Witnesses say the 300 on the lower deck were trapped and drowned immediately while the rest tried to survive before succumbing to the seas.

The survivors have provided Greek authorities with details of those involved.

Meanwhile, Libyan coastguard said a boat carrying 250 African migrants travelling to Europe capsized off Tripoli on Sunday with 200 feared dead.

The United Nations say that as many as 130,000 migrants have arrived in Europe this year.

Many attempt to cross from North Africa and the Middle East in unsafe and flimsy vessels.

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