Over 30 migrants, mostly toddlers, drown as 200 fall from overcrowded boat on their way to Europe (PHOTOS, VIDEO)


More than 30 migrants including young children drowned Wednesday when they fell off an overloaded vessel in the Mediterranean, where tensions are rising between aid ships and the Libyan coast guard.

"There's a critical situation today. About 200 people fell into the water," a coastguard spokesman told AFP, while a humanitarian worker at the scene said 31 bodies had been recovered.

The migrants were on a wooden boat carrying between 500 and 700 people and were just 20 nautical miles off the Libyan coast when the accident happened.

The crew of the Phoenix aid boat, chartered by the Maltese NGO Moas, had begun the rescue and were distributing lifejackets when many of those on deck fell into the water, perhaps knocked off balance by a wave.

"Not a scene from a horror movie... Real life tragedy unfolding on Europe's doorstep today!," said Chris Catrambone, Moas co-founder, who was aboard the Phoenix and published photos showing white body bags lined up on the deck.

"Rescuers are frantically trying to break open the locked hold on a wooden boat where hundreds of migrants are trapped!" he tweeted.







Photo credit: Chris Catrambone (Twitter)

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