The captain and a member of the crew of an overloaded fishing boat that capsized and sank in the Mediterranean Sea during the weekend, killing hundreds of migrants seeking refuge in Europe, were arrested on suspicion of "reckless shipwreck, multiple manslaughter [and] abetting clandestine immigration," an Italian prosecutor's office said today.
"Only the commander of the [migrants '] fishing vessel and its crew are suspected of causing the crime," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Only 28 survivors were rescued and 24 bodies of an estimated 800 to 850 aboard the vessel that capsized 70 miles north of Libya on Saturday had been recovered as of today. The likely toll makes the sinking the deadliest known disaster involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa, according to a report by CNN.
Meanwhile, the European Union proposed doubling the size of its Mediterranean search-and-rescue operations on Monday as the first bodies were brought ashore of some 900 people feared killed in the deadliest shipwreck while trying to reach Europe.
The mass deaths have caused shock in Europe, where a decision to scale back naval operations last year seems to have increased the risks for migrants without reducing their numbers, according to a report by The Maritime Executive.
"The situation in the Mediterranean is dramatic. It cannot continue like this," said European Council President Donald Tusk, calling an extraordinary summit of EU leaders for Thursday to plan how to stop human traffickers and boost rescue efforts.