97 missing after asylum seeker boat sinks off Libya

At least 97 people are missing and believed to have drowned after their Europe-bound boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday, according to the Libyan coastguard.
Spokesman Ayoub Qassem said 23 migrants were rescued around 10 kilometres off the coast of Tripoli after authorities received a distress call. Fifteen women and five children are among those still missing.
The boat, which was packed with African nationals seeking asylum in Europe, “completely collapsed”, he said.
The survivors, all men, were found clinging to a flotation device.
Those who had disappeared were “probably dead”, Qassem said, adding that bad weather had prevented the recovery of their bodies.
Libya has become a key departure point for people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Hailing mainly from sub-Saharan countries, most of the asylum seekers board boats operated by people traffickers in the country’s west, heading for the Italian island of Lampedusa 300 kilometres away.
Since the beginning of this year, at least 590 people have died or gone missing along the Libyan coast, the International Organisation for Migration said in late March.
Source: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/97-missing-asylum-seeker-boat-sink…

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