26, July 2019
Libya’s Red Crescent said Friday its rescue workers had recovered the bodies of 62 migrants a day after one of the deadliest shipwrecks this year in the Mediterranean.
“Our Red Crescent teams have pulled 62 migrants” from the water since Thursday evening, the head of the unit Abdelmoneim Abu Sbeih said.
Aid agencies on Thursday said more than 100 migrants were missing after an overloaded boat sank off the Libyan coast east of the capital near the port city of Khoms.
About 145 migrants were rescued by the Libyan coastguard, and fishermen said the waters were full of floating bodies.
“The bodies are still floating onto the shore continuously, it’s not possible to give a total number,” Abu Sbeih added.
Local authorities were gathering and storing the bodies until burial places could be found, a municipal source in Khoms said.
The migrants had apparently been headed out to sea on three boats lashed together, according to the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Survivors had reported a total of almost 400 people on board, MSF mission chief Julien Raickman told AFP.
The head of the UN refugee agency Filippo Grandi called the wreck “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.
The capsize came only a few weeks after some 68 migrants died when an Italy-bound boat sank off Tunisia.
Libya, which has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that killed longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi, has long been a major transit route for migrants, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, desperate to reach Europe.