However, it is not known whether any Gambian was among the dead from the boat said to be carrying up to 130 people. Press reports however stated that the dead included a pregnant woman.
Some 52 people were rescued, including migrants from The Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. A Libyan official said the hull of the boat gave way shortly after it left the beach on 6 May because of the crush of people on board.
Speaking to The Standard yesterday from Tripoli, a Gambian “connection man” Buba Ceesay explained: “I do not know the identities of Gambians involved but I know from reliable sources that there were over 90 Gambians in the boat. The organisers of the boat are Gambian but they did not have much experience in this and rushed to get these people out to sea as soon as they were paid money without checking the weather.
“Although there are some other nationalities, the overwhelming majority are Gambians. I am very sad about this with the loss of many young lives with all their hopes and dreams. The problem with these people is that they did not wait for the right weather. The people whose relatives departed are worried and waiting for news on their fate. We do not know identities of the people involved yet”.
Salifu Drammeh, another “connection man”, said: “My head was swollen with worry because I feared the worst because I thought I had put three people in that boat. I thought they were in that boat but thankfully they were not and they have called to inform me of their safe arrival in Italy. This should not have happened but for the choice of wrong time by the boat owners. These things take time, patience, understanding and experience of maritime weather otherwise you end up with unnecessary accidents. They had not even gone very far when the boat capsized”.
By Sainey Darboe]]>