Middle East

Three babies dead and 100 people missing as migrant boat sinks off the coast of Libya

Around 120 migrants were on the inflatable boat when it sank; among the missing are five youngsters under the age of 12

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 12:29am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 1:22am

The bodies of three babies were recovered and about 100 people were missing after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Libya on Friday, survivors and the coastguard said.

About 120 migrants were aboard the inflatable dinghy when it ran into trouble, according to survivors brought ashore in Al-Hmidiya, east of the capital, Tripoli.

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Sixteen people were rescued, while the missing included five children under the age of 12.

Survivors said the boat sank a few hours after a predawn departure from Garabulli, east of Tripoli, following an explosion on board.

The motor then caught fire and the vessel began taking on water, they said. The passengers included a number of Moroccan families and Yemenis.

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Libya’s coastguard said fishermen had spotted the vessel in difficulty and contacted the navy, which has been involved in the rescue of hundreds of migrants in recent days.

On June 18, five bodies were recovered and more than 100 people were saved after they were shipwrecked off the Libyan coast.

Nearly 1,000 migrants were rescued on June 24 from multiple inflatable boats which had run into trouble during perilous bids to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

The latest shipwreck came after European Union leaders reached a deal aimed at sharing the responsibility for hosting migrants more fairly across the bloc.

The pact reached overnight includes a proposal to set up “disembarkation platforms” outside the EU as a way to reduce the number of people taking the perilous sea journey.