April 19, 2016 / 7:07 AM / 4 years ago

Somalia estimates 200-300 citizens may have died in migrant drowning - minister

A migrant receives help when disembarking from the SOS Mediterranee ship Aquarius at the Italian island of Lampedusa in this handout received April 18, 2016. SOS Mediterranee/Handout via REUTERS

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Somalia’s government said on Monday between 200 and 300 Somalis may have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea while trying to cross illegally to Europe, based on information it has gathered in the past two days from the Somali diaspora and its embassy in Egypt.

“We have no fixed number but it is between 200 and 300 Somalis,” Somali Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir told Reuters by telephone when asked about possible Somali deaths in an incident first disclosed by the Italian president. “There is no clear number since they are not travelling legally.”

The minister said he understood a boat may have been carrying about 500 people, of which 200 to 300 were Somalis “and most of them had died”. He did not give a precise timing for the incident.

Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams

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