Mediterranean turning to refugee 'cemetery'
Malta's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said European waters close to Africa are turning into a cemetery and that Malta felt “abandoned” by rest of Europe, after another boat laden with migrants capsized.
Malta and Italy launched a rescue operation after a boat carrying 200 migrants capsized just before sunset on Friday, killing at least 50 people.
It happened 120km off Lampedusa, the Italian island where at least 300 migrants drowned last week.
Mr. Muscat said prompt action between Malta and Italy had saved lives, but he complained that the rest of Europe had supplied only "empty talk".
"I don't know how many more people need to die at sea before something gets done," he said.
"Rules need to change, whether they are tighter or looser is not the issue, the fact is that this thing is broken and it needs to be fixed.
"As things stand we are building a cemetery within our Mediterranean Sea."
The prime minister said the dead included three small children.
Earlier on Friday, at least 500 other migrants travelling in separate boats were rescued in coastguard operations near the Italian island of Sicily.
Also on Friday, a separate boat accident off the Egyptian port of Alexandria claimed the lives of at least 12 migrants.
After last week's tragedy off Lampedusa the European Commission called for the EU to launch Mediterranean-wide search and rescue patrols to intercept migrant boats.
The EU's Frontex border agency, set up in 2004, has seen its budget cut from 118m euros (£100m; $160m) in 2011 to 85m euros in 2013.
The BBC says European leaders face a quandary as they struggle to balance political pressures to restrict migrant numbers with the need to assist those desperate enough to risk such a perilous journey.