A distraught mum screamed “I lose my baby” after a dinghy carrying migrants sank in the Mediterranean – one of four tragedies that have left more than 110 dead.
In distressing video of the rescue operation, the mother of the six-month-old boy, Joseph, is seen writhing in agony on the floor of a boat as dozens of migrants are seen floating in the water.
She shouts: “Where is my baby? I lose my baby. Find my baby, find my baby.”
The infant, from the West African nation of Guinea, was pulled from the sea off the coast of Libya but later died on a rescue boat after going into cardiac arrest, said the Spanish refugee rescue charity Proactiva Open Arms.
More than 100 migrants died in four shipwrecks in just three days this week while trying to reach Europe.
An incident north of Sabratha in Libya left baby Joseph and five others dead.
His mother and a pregnant woman were among those rescued and taken to Lampedusa island by Italy’s coastguard.
A three-month-old baby girl and her mother were airlifted to Malta for urgent medical treatment.
A spokesperson for Emergency, which provides medical care and is working alongside Open Arms to rescue migrants, said: “We were alerted to the situation by an aircraft belonging to Frontex, which was unusual and has not happened since 2016.
“The dinghy had deflated and everyone on board was in the water.
“We recovered 113 people, including seven women and four children, and five lifeless bodies.
“Unfortunately, in the hours following the rescue, a six-month-old baby, who was already in a precarious condition, lost his life.”
In another incident, the bodies of at least 74 people washed up on the beach of al-Khums.
Open Arms tweeted: “The Med is a cemetery with no gravestones.”
Reacting to Joseph’s death, Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau tweeted: “Every life matters. It could have been our [baby].”
Amnesty International said: “We remain shocked by the death of Joseph, the six-month-old baby from Guinea Conakry who died in a shipwreck on Wednesday.
“His mother’s scream has brought the tragedy at sea back to the headlines.”
Four shipwrecks this week have left more than 110 migrants dead.
Of those, at least 74 bodies washed up on the beach of al-Khums.
In another incident, Doctors Without Borders helped three women who were the only survivors of a shipwreck that killed 20 people off the coast of Sorman, also in Libya.
The organisation tweeted: “Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified.
“They saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes.”
Open Arms said on Thursday that it had 259 migrants, including 76 unaccompanied minors, and five bodies on board its vessel, which was off the coast of Lampedusa.
The group said the survivors “are in poor physical and psychological health and must be able to disembark in a safe harbour as soon as possible”.
The survivors mainly come from Eritrea, Togo, Sudan, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Somalia, Burundi, Ghana, Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, it said.
Libya, which has had no stable central government since a Nato-backed uprising in 2011, is a major transit point for mainly African migrants seeking to cross the Mediterranean and reach Europe.
At least 900 have already drowned this year attempting the crossing, according to the agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Another 11,000 have been stopped at sea and returned to Libya, where migrants are often detained, exploited or abused.
Italy said it had registered almost 31,000 refugee arrivals in 2020 so far, more than three times last year’s total.
IOM and the UN refugee agency UNHCR have both said that Libya should not be considered a safe port of return, and that migrants rescued or stopped at sea should not be taken back there.