More than 100 migrants were missing after their boat sank off the coast of Libya in what might be the worst tragedy in the Mediterranean this year, aid agencies said on Thursday.
“The sinking took place off the coast of the city of Khoms,”some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Tripoli, said Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the International Organisation of Migration in Libya.
About 145 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, and survivors had reported that about 150 people remained missing, she said.
General Ayoub Kacem, a spokesman for the Libyan navy, said that “134 migrants were rescued and a body recovered, while 115 other migrants are still missing”.
“A wooden boat carrying around 250 people, including women and children, sank some five nautical miles from the coast, according to witness testimony from the migrants who survived,” Kacem said in a statement.
He said most of the rescued migrants were from Ethiopia and others were Palestinians and Sudanese. The coastguard was waiting for authorities to provide accommodation for them.
The head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi tweeted that it was “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.
“Restoring rescue at sea, ending refugee + migrant detention in Libya, increasing safe pathways out of Libya must happen NOW, before it is too late for many more desperate people,” he added.
The capsize came only a few weeks after some 68 migrants died when an Italy-bound boat sank off Tunisia.
That boat, filled with mostly African migrants, tipped over shortly after setting out from the Libyan town of Zuwara, west of Tripoli, with the aim of reaching Italy.
Leave your views in comments box below