The Libyan coast guard intercepted 48 people trying to flee Libya on Wednesday morning, a day after 43 others died in the first reported shipwreck of a refugee boat this year.
The British newspaper Morning Star, revealed that the refugees left Zawiya on Libya's northern coast on a wooden boat on Tuesday evening and after the water later leaked, they were able to connect to the "rescue phone" network, which operates a hotline for people in distress of drowning at sea.
The network contacted Maltese, Italian and Libyan authorities as well as the refugee rescue ship Ocean Viking, which returned to the central Mediterranean last week after being held in Italy for five months.
The German refugee rescue organization Sea Watch, which launched its reconnaissance aircraft, was unable to reach the migrants before the Libyan Coast Guard, which had taken 48 people on board a ship and headed southeast back to shore.
On Tuesday, 43 people died in the crash of the first refugee ship off the Libyan coast and according to the International Organization for Migration, 10 survivors were rescued and taken ashore by the coast guard.
"Hundreds of people lost their lives last year while trying to cross the central Mediterranean, with the highest number of deaths occurring during a single migration journey," the International Organization for Migration and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a statement Wednesday. The organizations fear that the actual number of people who died in the central Mediterranean during 2020 could be much higher, due to limited monitoring capacity.