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These Pictures Show The Terrifying Shipwrecks That Left Up To 1,000 Refugees Feared Dead

Three boats carrying migrants and refugees capsized in the Mediterranean Sea last week.

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Over the weekend, the United Nations refugee agency said 100 people remain missing from a smugglers' boat that capsized in the Mediterranean Sea last Wednesday.

Marina Militare / AP

But on Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that after having met survivors, staff now believed the number of fatalities is 250 — not the 100 initially estimated.


And Doctors Without Borders, which operates rescue ships in the region, said at the weekend it believed a total of up to 900 people had died in the three shipwrecks.

Footage of the disaster was filmed and released by the Italian navy.

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About 550 people were rescued from the boat, while at least five bodies have been recovered.

Then, on Thursday, another boat capsized after leaving the Libyan port of Sabratha the previous day.

About 550 people are missing. A spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency told the Associated Press the boat was carrying about 670 people, didn't have an engine, and was being towed by another packed smuggling boat before it capsized.

The IOM said reports indicated most of the people aboard drowned, with just 87 survivors.

Raffaele Martino / AP

The migrants included many Eritreans, but there were also Ethiopians and Sudanese on board.

Then, on Friday, a third boat carrying migrants and refugees overturned off the coast of Italy.

Handout / Reuters

About 135 people were rescued, 45 bodies were recovered, and an unknown number of people are missing.

Since the start of the year, more than 180,000 people have arrived in Europe, according to Doctors Without Borders.

The medical nonprofit estimates more than 1,200 people have drowned or gone missing after their boats capsized or sank in 2016.

The IOM said the past eight days have been one of the "deadliest periods yet in the migration crisis."

More than 13,000 people were rescued in the Mediterranean between Monday, May 23, and Sunday, May 29, bringing the total rescued through May 2016 to 47,600 men, women, and children, the IOM estimated.

Also on Tuesday, rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) said it had sent two ships to the Mediterranean for the summer.

Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

“The summer of 2016 will be a defining year for Europe, Libya and the hundreds of thousands of desperate people who will be forced onto the sea to seek safety," founder Christopher Catrambone said in a statement.

The charity will also employ drones to help locate people in need of rescue. “Having drones on board the Phoenix will allow MOAS to be on station in the most deadly part of the journey, the stretch of sea a few nautical miles off the coast of Libya that kills thousands of people, many of whom are buried in unmarked graves," Catrambone said.

Alicia Melville-Smith is a homepage editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alicia Melville-Smith at

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