7 Somali refugees die trying to reach Malta

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The U.N. refugee agency says survivors have told how seven people on board their boat died during a weeklong crossing from Libya to Malta.

The global body says the boat carrying 90 Somali refugees landed at a popular Maltese beach on Saturday.

The U.N. refugee agency in Geneva says Tuesday that it was the fourth such boat to arrive in Malta this year. A further 45 refugee boats have landed in Italy over the past five months.

The agency says 81 refugees are estimated to have perished crossing the Mediterranean from Libya so far this year.

The number is a sharp drop from the previous year when thousands of North Africans fled turmoil in their home countries and an estimated 1,500 people were reported missing or dead attempting to reach Europe.