Africa

Libya migrant boat sinks: Scores feared drowned

A shoe belonging to an illegal immigrant floats on the water after a boat carrying illegal migrants sank off Libya Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many hundreds of migrants have drowned off Libya this year

Many migrants have drowned while trying to reach Europe after their boat sank off Libya, the Libyan navy says.

Navy spokesman Ayub Qassem said 36 people had been rescued after the vessel - which carried 250 - went down near Tajoura, east of Tripoli.

"There are so many dead bodies floating in the sea," Mr Qassem told reporters.

Reports are also emerging of another sinking, in which up to 500 people may have drowned last week off the coast of Malta.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) quoted two Palestinian survivors as telling them that the traffickers deliberately sank the boat after an argument on board.

The Maltese authorities have not yet commented.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Bodies of drowned migrants have washed up on Libyan beaches after previous sinkings

There has been a surge in the number of migrants leaving Libya this year, with human traffickers taking advantage of the political chaos.

Rival militias have been battling for control of the country.

The navy and coastguard have few resources and often have to borrow boats from fishermen and other agencies.

Mr Qassem said most of the migrants were Africans and many were women.

One of the 36 survivors was a pregnant woman, he told the AP news agency.

This is the fourth boat carrying migrants from Libya to have sunk in the past month.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAndrej Mahecic, UN Refugee Agency: 'Record year for arrivals to EU from sea'

Related Topics

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites