Posted by News Express | 15 September 2014 | 3,356 times
Scores of African migrants trying to reach Europe were feared dead last night after their boat sank off the Libyan coast.
Only 36 of approximately 250 passengers had been rescued, a Libyan navy spokesman said. Ayub Qassem told Reuters that the boat had sunk near Tajoura, east of the capital, Tripoli. He said: “There are so many dead bodies floating in the sea.”
Libya is a major departure point for migrants leaving Africa, often for Italy, but the use of rickety wooden boats has resulted in hundreds of deaths.
Human traffickers are exploiting the political chaos and lack of security that has blighted Libya since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown as leader in an uprising in 2011.
The latest incident comes just weeks after another wooden boat heading for Italy sank half a mile off the Libyan coast, killing 100 people.
Qassem said the Libyan coastguard was under-equipped to deal with the scale of the problem and had few resources to search for survivors.
There has been a surge in the number of migrants attempting to make the hazardous journey from north Africa and the Middle East to Europe. More than 100,000 have reached Italy since the start of the year and nearly 2,000 have perished in the attempt, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR.
The Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, has called on the EU to take responsibility for rescuing migrants attempting the sea crossing, and on the UN to help curb the flow of refugees from Libya.
•Text courtsy of The Guardian of London. Photo, courtesy of Italian navy/AP, shows boat carrying African migrants to Europe.
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