Italian authorities say the captain of a migrant boat and his deputy have been arrested.
Mohammed Ali Malek, 27, was arrested under suspicion of multiple homicide, had steered his severely overloaded boat into a collision with a merchant ship that was coming to its rescue.
As many as 800 people are feared to have lost their lives in Sunday’s disaster off the coast of Libya, when the boat capsized.
Around 30 rescued survivors were taken to the Sicilian port of Catania late on Monday.
“We carried out two arrest warrants of suspected traffickers, we are talking about the captain of the ship that capsized and a member of the crew,” explained Catania prosecutor Rocco Liguori. “We charged them both with favouring illegal immigration and the captain was also charged with unintentional shipwreck and multiple manslaughter.”
Thousands of people from all over the Middle East and North Africa have died in the Mediterranean fleeing war, poverty and oppression.
The mass deaths have caused shock in Europe where naval operations were scaled back last year.
Pope Francis and the United Nations human rights chief have called for more compassion from Europe.
In Catania, survivors of the latest boat tragedy are finally on dry land, but still visibly traumatised pic.twitter.com/h6szQn5yA5— Kate Bond (@katebonduk) April 21, 2015