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Migrant boat captain arrested as survivors of sinking reach Italy

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Baku, April 21 AZERTAC

Italian police have arrested two suspected people traffickers among the survivors of the migrant boat that capsized on Sunday, as the United Nations confirmed that at least 800 people died in the sinking off the coast of Libya.

Prosecutors said they had detained a Tunisian man believed to be the captain of the vessel and a Syrian, allegedly a member of the ship’s crew, taken from a group of 27 haggard survivors who arrived in the Sicilian port of Catania on Monday evening.

The two were charged with people trafficking and the captain was also charged with reckless multiple homicide in relation to the sinking.

The arrests came after an emergency meeting of EU interior and foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday made a decision to launch military operations against the networks of smugglers in Libya, as well as to bolster maritime patrols in the Mediterranean and give their modest naval mission a broader search-and-rescue mandate for saving lives.

The Italian coastguard ship carrying the survivors arrived late on Monday night, with all the migrants on board disembarking by 1.45am local time. One man was seen to leave the boat in a wheelchair.

Officials for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that some of the dead were children between the ages of 10 and 12.

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