Tuesday, 16 September 2014
HUNDREDS FEARED DEAD AS BOAT SINKS OFF THE COAST OF LIBYA.
A boat filled with as many as 250 migrants heading for Europe has sunk on off the Libyan coast and many passengers have died, said a spokesman for the Libyan navy.Only 26 people have been rescued after the boat sunk near Tajoura, east of the capital Tripoli, said navy spokesman Ayub Qassem, "There are so many dead bodies floating in the sea," Qassem said, adding that the under-equipped coast guard had few resources to search for survivors.
Migrants have been streaming out of Libya in boats in rising numbers for years, on their way to Europe.So far in 2014, more than 100,000 have reached Italy shores, the Italian government said this week.Human traffickers are exploiting the political chaos and lack of security that has blighted Libya since Moammar Gadhafi was toppled in an uprising in 2011.
Qassem said the migrants on the capsized boat were mostly Africans.Libya's coast guard mainly exists on paper and relies on fishing boats and tugs it borrows from the oil ministry.
More than 100 African migrants died in a similar boat accident in August.
Until last year, migrants departing for Africa favored Tunisian ports but when authorities cracked down, Libya became the point of departure for many who seek a future in Europe.
Many attempt the journey to Malta or the Italian island of Lampedusa off Sicily, and Libya. In May, authorities in Tripoli warned the European Union that unless it helped Libya deal with the migrants — many from sub-Saharan Africa — it could “facilitate” the passage of illegal migrants.
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