(Author: Libyan Gazette Editorial Staff)
Close to 100 refugees were reported missing from a boat that sank just off Libya’s shores, according to Ayoub Qassem, a spokesperson for the coastguard.
The boat carrying refugees left Garabulli, around 50 kilometres east of Tripoli, on Wednesday.
29 refugees were rescued by the coastguard, about 40 kilometers from Libyan shores. The rescued refugees reported that there was close to 126 people on board the boat before it capsized, said Qassem.
Human smugglers have been taking advantage of the political chaos in Libya and are using the North African country as a launching pad for their smuggling operations to Europe.
“Because of overcrowding one of the sides of the boat got torn and water leaked in,” said Qassem. “Ninety-seven illegal migrants are still missing or they have drowned.”
The death toll on the Mediterranean has been increasing at an alarming rate, adding up to a total of over 3,740 refugees so far this year, which is close to the total deaths reported last year.