World Bulletin / News Desk
Sea Watch said in a written statement on its website that the “violent and reckless behavior” of the Libyan coastguard had caused at least five deaths.
“Probably nobody would have had to die today if only we had the possibility to operate reasonably in a calm environment," said Sea Watch head of mission Johannes Bayer in the statement.
“These deaths have to be blamed on the Libyan coastguard, who have obstructed a safe rescue with their brutal behavior," he added.
But Libyan naval forces said they rescued 47 illegal migrants while five others drowned as they tried to swim toward Sea Watch's ship, which they claimed had created chaos in the rescue area.
"Once the German NGO Sea Watch arrived on the scene where the Libyan coastguard was rescuing migrants, all migrants rushed to it -- even those who were saved and placed on board dinghies. Most of them jumped in the water, leading to the deaths of five of them," the naval forces said in a statement on their Facebook page, according to local media.
According to the UN’s International Organization for Migration, at least 2,600 have died in the central Mediterranean migration route from Libya to Italy through Nov. 1.