More than 30 migrants dead after boat capsizes off Libya’s coast

Photo credit: Reuters. Migrant bodies retrieved from the water and taken back to Libya

TMP – 29/11/2017

More than 30 migrants have died after two boats capsized off the coast of the Libyan city of Garabulli on 25 November, the Libyan navy said.

Libyan coastguard spokesman Colonel Abu Ajila Abdelbarri said that patrols had found 31 bodies and 60 survivors from one boat, while all 140 passengers had survived in a second boat. Most of the migrants were from African nations and were trying to make their way to Italy’s shores.

“The first dinghy had capsized, it had sunk before we reached it,” Colonel Abu Ajala said. He said the coastguard had gone to the scene “after hearing distress signals, and when they got there they found a group of people hanging on to the remainder of the dinghy, but the rest had died, they had spread out while the dinghy was sinking.”

Libyan navy spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Agence France-Presse that 18 women and three children were among the dead, while a further 40 people remain missing.

“We looked for other survivors for more than five hours,” Libyan patrol boat commander Nasser al-Ghammoudi said. “We were able to rescue one woman after we heard her shouts.”

The surviving migrants were taken back to Tripoli’s naval base.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that at least 33,000 people have died or gone missing between 2000 and 2017 – making crossing the Mediterranean the world’s ‘deadliest journey’ for migrants.