August 22, 2014 – 170 African Migrants Drowned On Boat To Libya While Searching For Greener Pastures
A boat accident has killed 170 African migrants travelling to Tripoli in search for better way of life.
According to Libyan coastguard officials, today a boat carrying 170 illegal migrants from sub-Saharan Africa was feared lost at sea off the capital Tripoli.
“We are looking for 170 African passengers on a wooden boat that has foundered off the Guarakouzi area” some 60 kilometres (35 miles) east of Tripoli, coastguard official Abdellatif Mohammed Ibrahim told AFP.
“A few miles off the coast, we found the remains of a wooden boat which had had some 200 migrants on board,” he said.
“We managed to save 16 people and recovered 15 bodies, but the search continues for some 170 people who disappeared at sea,” Ibrahim told AFP.
He said the coastguard was lacking in resources, and had only one patrol boat to search for the missing people.
An AFP journalist reported seeing the body of a child who was nevertheless wearing a life-jacket.
The coastguard official was unable to give any firm details of the nationalities of the victims or survivors, but added: “It seems that among them are Somalis and Eritreans.”
On Thursday, Tunisian fishermen rescued 75 migrants who had been drifting at sea for five days after leaving Libya aboard an inflatable in an attempt to reach Italy.
The migrants were in a state of extreme fatigue by the time they made landfall in Zarzis, in southern Tunisia, where emergency services took charge of them, an AFP correspondent reported.
Earlier this month, Tunisian coastguards intercepted 90 African migrants whose makeshift boat heading from Libya for the Italian island of Lampedusa broke down off Zarzis.
Would-be immigrants often attempt the crossing from Libya or Tunisia to Lampedusa in rickety boats.
On August 12, EU border agency Frontex said the number of boat migrants arriving in Italy soared 500 percent in the first half of the year, already topping a 2011 record during the Arab Spring uprisings.
The Warsaw-based agency said 78,300 people had arrived in the European Union by the end of July via the hazardous Mediterranean route from Libya to mainly Italy, but also Malta.
“Libya is highly unstable as it is now, and that means that the people-smuggling networks are flourishing,” Frontex spokeswoman Izabella Cooper told AFP.