Europe

Migrant crisis: Scores missing after boat sinks off Libya

Migrants arrive in Lampedusa, 30 April Image copyright Guardia Costiera
Image caption The Italian Coast Guard released images of the rescued migrants arriving on Lampedusa

Eighty-four migrants are missing after their inflatable dinghy sank off the Libyan coast, the International Organization for Migration says.

The dinghy was found taking on water in rough seas after the Italian coast guard received a satellite phone call.

It diverted the merchant ship to rescue 26 survivors and bring them to Italy.

A spokesperson for the coastguard said similar boats used by people smugglers could hold 100-120 people, and were usually full.

Rough seas and waves topping two metres (seven feet) hampered rescue efforts.

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Media captionQuentin Somerville in Libya: "It's hard to think of a more desperate place than here"
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Media captionMigrants tell Quentin Sommerville why they are desperate to get to Europe

No details of the nationalities of the migrants, who were brought to the island of Lampedusa, were immediately available.

Around 27,000 refugees and other migrants have reached Italy by boat so far this year, most of them setting out from Libya.

Officials expect the number attempting the illegal crossing to rise because countries in the Balkans have shut their land borders.

At least 800 migrants are feared to have drowned in the southern Mediterranean this year to date.


A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.