Mediterranean shipwreck: At least 500 migrants feared dead in Malta

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Valetta : In this image made available from the UNHCR on Monday Sept. 15, 2014 American actress, Angelina Jolie, centre, who serves as Special Envoy for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, listens to officers in the Maltese military discuss rescue at sea operations for refugees at a military base in Valetta, Malta on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014. Since the start of 2014, more than 2,500 asylum seekers have perished trying to cross the Mediterranean.
Malta, Sept 16: In a major shipwreck tragedy, as many as 700 migrants were feared drowned in Mediterranean and 500 were reportedly dead, media reports said on Monday.

The International Organisation for Migration spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume told Reuters in Geneva, " a violent confrontation between migrants and traffickers, caused the ship to sink, as traffickers had rammed their boat into the ship, until it sank, after migrants refused to change vessels in the middle of Mediterranean.

"Some 500 people were on board - Syrians, Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese. They were trying to reach Europe," she said.

The ship started its voyage on Saturday, Sept 6 from Damiette, Egypt, and sank off Malta's coast on Sept 10th, she said, adding that some of the survivors were only rescued on Friday.

Only nine survivors could be rescued out of which two were Palestinians,, who were rescued by a Panamanian-flagged commercial ship.

Meanwhie, the Italian police has called for an inquiry into the shipwreck incident.

2014 is said to be the deadliest years in terms of shipwreck mishaps as total death toll have been recored as 3,000, the IOM  said on Monday.

As per an AP report, Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie on Sunday met with surviving refugees on Malta and called on the world to "wake up" to the migrant crisis involving Mediterranean countries. Jolie serves as a special envoy for the United Nations' refugee agency.

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