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Thirty people have tragically lost their lives after a boat carrying migrants from Libya capsized in the Mediterranean.
The boat was caught up in bad weather conditions with charity Alarm Phone revealing on Twitter on Sunday (March 12) afternoon that a vessel, which was believed to have 47 people on board, had capsized 110 miles north-west of Benghazi.
At around 9pm, the same organisation, which monitors distress calls from migrant vessels crossing to Europe, then posted an update on their website to confirm that 30 people had died.
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The 17 people who were rescued by the merchant vessel FROLAND, meanwhile, had all endured the horrific sight of their friends and family dying.
Alarm Phone revealed how they passed on the GPS location of the boat to Italian, Maltese and Libyan authorities.
A spokesperson for the charity added: "The situation was critical. The boat was adrift.
"The weather conditions were extremely dangerous. The people on board were screaming on the phone that they needed help."
Alarm Phone said workers had contacted the Italian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre a number of times but that the centre did not send out help in time.
An image purporting to show the vessel was shared on Twitter by charity Sea-Watch International, which also said it had been in contact with people on the boat.
A third charity – Mediterranea Saving Humans – said Italian authorities had been instructing merchant vessels to observe the situation but not to carry out a rescue attempt.
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Luca Casarini, Mediterranea's head of mission, said four merchant vessels were still in the area.
The Italian Coastguard also later confirmed that 17 people had been recovered from the scene.
Two of those rescued were taken to Malta as they needed urgent medical attention.
The rest were taken to Italy.
According to the Italian Coastguard, the migrant boat capsized while rescue attempts were underway.
The incident had occurred outside of the country's search and rescue area.
It follows last month's shipwreck off the Italian coast close to Steccato di Cutro when at least 72 migrants also lost their lives.
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