boat carrying dozens of migrants bound for Europe capsized Tuesday in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, with at least 40 people missing and presumed drowned, U.N. officials said.
At least 65 migrants, mostly from Sudan, were rescued, said Ayoub Gassim, a spokesman for Libya’s coast guard, with a search halted for those still missing.
Gassim said that five people were confirmed dead, including a woman and a child from Morocco whose bodies were recovered near the western town of Khoms, around 120 kilometres east of Tripoli. The other dead were men from Morocco, Sudan and Somalia.
“If today’s tragic numbers are confirmed, the number of people drowned in the Mediterranean in 2019 will have reached close to 900,” said Charlie Yaxley, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency.
Libya’s coast guard says it has intercepted hundreds of migrants at sea so far in August.
The country became a major crossing point for migrants to Europe after the overthrow and death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, when the North African nation was thrown.