Dramatic video shows young children among 149 migrants rescued by coast guard after shipwreck

  • Video report by ITV News International Affairs Editor Rageh Omaar

The Italian coast guard has recovered the bodies of seven migrants near Lampedusa, an island south of Sicily.

The coast guard, aided by border police boats, kept up a search in rough seas for as many as 13 other migrants feared missing after their boat capsized on Saturday.

The Italian coast guard have released dramatic footage of the rescue of almost 150 migrants - including three children - after the boat they were travelling in sank.

Small children can be seen in the video being pulled onto a coast guard boat, as others are trying to stay above water in freezing conditions.

The coast guard said a member of the public alerted them on Saturday that a boat was foundering.

The vessel, tossed by three-metre-high waves, then overturned.

Migrants set out on unseaworthy boats launched by Libya-based human traffickers.

Hanan Ashegh, Chief Executive of Goodwill Caravan, said refugees arrive in high numbers in winter as it is cheaper to cross. Credit: ITV News

A member of the coastguard said "we tried to do our best" as he described the scene.

Many of the rescued migrants were taken to hospital; the majority had not eaten for three days and had been without water for at least a day.

Hanan Ashegh, Chief Executive of Goodwill Caravan, told ITV News that while media coverage around refugees' desperate bid to seek asylum rarely made the news as these events did in 2015/16, large numbers are still risking their lives to reach what they see at safety in Europe.

"I believe in the past week around 1,800 refugees arrive on the islands, largely numbers have been rejected and turned back to different countries, including Turkey," she told ITV News.

The increasingly cold weather in Europe is no deterrent to the refugees according to Ms Ashegh, who said people will continue to make the increasingly dangerous crossing in the cold months because it is cheaper to buy a ticket on one of the dinghies.