PA premier expresses sorrow over Malta shipwreck
Published Monday 14/10/2013 (updated) 16/10/2013 17:39
Migrants arrive aboard a Maltese patrol boat at Hay Wharf in
Valletta, on October 12, 2013.(AFP/Matthew Mirabelli)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Palestinian Authority prime minister Rami Hamdallah on Monday expressed sorrow after a boat carrying Palestinian refugees fleeing from Syria capsized off Malta's coast on Friday.
The boat, which left the Libyan port of Zwara on Thursday, sank a day later near Malta, killing at least 33 people, with hundreds unaccounted for.
The PA said it is closely following developments and the PA foreign ministry is in touch with officials in Malta, Libya, Italy and Egypt to find out information about missing persons and survivors.
The Palestinian embassy in Malta says Maltese naval forces rescued 147 people, including 40 Palestinians, while Italian naval forces rescued 57 people.
The ship was carrying some 400 migrants, mainly Palestinians and Syrians.
Dozens of Palestinians are thought to have died in the shipwreck, although no official death toll has been released.
Hamdallah urged the UN and international community to provide protection for Palestinian refugees caught up in the Syrian conflict.
Earlier, the governor of Ramallah, Laila Ghannam, announced that a traditional scouts procession planned for Tuesday would be canceled in mourning for refugees who lost their lives.
Some of the survivors of the shipwreck said Libyan militiamen shot wildly at them, leaving several people dead and causing the vessel to take on water and sink.
Some 250,000 Palestinian refugees have been forced to leave their refugee camps in Syria due to violence in the country, with over 1,500 thought to have been killed in the conflict.
A staggering 6.2 million Syrians have been torn from their homes -- a number without parallel in any other country and representing nearly a third of Syria's pre-war population of 20.8 million.