Aid agencies said they had plucked the bodies of 62 migrants from waters off the Libyan coast a day after one of the deadliest shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this year.
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.
“Our Red Crescent teams have pulled 62 migrants” from the water since Thursday evening, the head of the unit Abdelmoneim Abu Sbeih said.
“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.
Earlier, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said that up to 150 people were feared dead.
“The worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year has just occurred,” UNHCR head Filippo Grandi said in a tweet about Thursday’s shipwrecks.
Libya is a hub for migrants and refugees, many of whom try to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats.
The latest shipwreck takes the death toll of Mediterranean migrants to over 600 this year, putting 2019 on track to be the sixth year in a row with more than 1,000 deaths, UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said.
“Until we address the reasons why people take these dangerous boat journeys, sadly, this is unlikely to be the last tragedy like this that we see,” he said. – Agencies
Photo caption:: Migrants are seen after being rescued by Libyan coast guard in Tripoli, Libya July 26, 2019. (Reuters)