No fewer than 16 people are feared dead after their boat sank off the coast of Libya, a UN agency reports.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Friday reports that three bodies have been recovered but 13 people are still missing.
“At least 13 lives remain missing at sea and while three bodies have been recovered from the sea after a tragic shipwreck occurred off the coast of Libya last night,” IOM’s Libya office said.
Fishing vessels brought 22 survivors back to Libya, where IOM staff were providing them with medical assistance.
Libya has become a major transit route for migrants trying to reach Europe by boat, since chaos erupted after the 2011 revolt that toppled long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
So far this year, about 430 migrants have died at sea on the central Mediterranean route to southern Europe, according to the IOM.
Last weekend a German group rescued 114 migrants off the coast of Libya after they were stranded.
The migrants, which included a pregnant woman and eight children, were lifted from an “overloaded rubber boat”.
The organisation, in a statement on its website, said 90 people were first lifted from an “overloaded rubber boat” and then another 24 people were lifted from a fishing boat.
The organisation added that eight of those rescued were children and eight were women, one of whom was pregnant.
Sea-Eye President Gorden Isler said despite facing certain death, the migrants did not send a distress signal over fears of being detained by Libyan militia.
The number of migrants attempting the hazardous journey to Europe via the Mediterranean increased sharply in 2020. Most of the vessels used for the journey are hardly suitable for sailing at sea.
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