73 migrants presumed dead after shipwreck off Libyan coast

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA): At least 73 migrants are reported missing and presumed dead following a tragic shipwreck off the coast of Libya on Tuesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday.

The boat, carrying around 80 people, reportedly left Qasr Alkayar, a Libyan coastal town overlooking the Mediterranean Sea located approximately 75 kilometers (about 46.6 miles) east of the capital Tripoli, on Feb. 14, heading to Europe.

“Seven survivors who made it back to Libyan shores in extremely dire conditions are currently in the hospital,” IOM spokesperson Safa Msehli said in a statement.

So far, 11 bodies have been retrieved by the Libyan Red Crescent and local police.

“This latest tragedy pushes the number of deaths in the central Mediterranean route to over 130 deaths so far this year,” she said.

In 2022, more than 1,450 deaths were recorded by the IOM Missing Migrants project.

“The central Mediterranean remains the world’s deadliest migratory sea crossing, claiming the largest number of lives each year,” according to the IOM.

“This situation is intolerable,” said Msehli

The IOM says concrete action by states is needed to increase search and rescue capacity, establish precise and safe disembarcation mechanisms, and safe and regular migration pathways to reduce dangerous journeys.

According to the IOM’s Missing Migrants project, 25,821 migrants and refugees have gone missing in the Mediterranean since 2014.

Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to make it to Europe. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.

Additional report by The Muslim News

[Archive photo:  Young people seen while disembarking in Crotone, Italy on October 26, 2022. 650 migrants, departed from Libya, had been taken in the port of Crotone by Diciotti patrol vessel of the Italian Coast Guard. Photographer: Valeria Ferraro/AA]

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