At least 55 people have drowned off the coast of Libya after a rubber boat carrying migrants to Europe sank, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported on Wednesday. Among the victims were women and children.
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The IOM said the tragedy occurred on Tuesday. The boat was carrying at least 60 migrants and set off from the coastal city of Garabulli, east of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
The agency reported that five migrants survived the disaster and were brought to shore by the Libyan coastguard. They were three Pakistanis, one Egyptian, and a Syrian child.
Safa Msehli, an IOM spokesperson, said the boat capsized shortly after leaving Garabulli. So far, the bodies of nine men and a child have been recovered from the water.
VIDEO: Boats transporting migrants of different nationalities arrive in the port of Garabulli after being rescued by the Libyan coastguard. pic.twitter.com/ou3R2PshrY
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) April 26, 2023
This year, at least 537 people have drowned or gone missing as a result of migration disasters in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, and more than 4,300 have been intercepted and returned to shore.
Libya has become the dominant transit point for refugees from Africa and the Middle East in recent years. Human traffickers take advantage of the political chaos in the country, attempting to smuggle migrants on poorly equipped ships, low-quality boats, and rafts, forcing them into risky journeys.