Tripoli, June 19 (IANS) Five illegal immigrants were drowned on Monday, and 191 others rescued off the western coast of Libya, Libyan navy spokesperson said.
Two separate operations were carried out by the coast guards, Ayob Qassem, adding that the first one was eight miles off Mellita town in the city of Zuwara, some 120 km west of the capital Tripoli, and rescued 115 illegal immigrants on a rubber boat.
“Five bodies of immigrants were recovered,” Qassem said, reports Xinhua news agency.
The illegal immigrants were in a bad condition as a result of waves hitting their boat, tearing it apart, and water leaking. Some of them fell and drowned in the sea, Qassem said.
The spokesperson said the rescued were taken to Tripoli naval base, and provided with humanitarian and medical assistance. They were then handed over to the anti-illegal immigration department of Tripoli.
Qassem also said that 76 others of different African nationalities were rescued in another operation off the coast of the city of Zawiya, some 45 km west of Tripoli, confirming that the migrants were also handed over to the anti-illegal immigration department.
Libya is a preferred point of departure for illegal immigrants who want to cross the Mediterranean towards Europe, due to the state of insecurity and chaos.
Improved weather conditions increase the flows of migrants towards Europe, particularly off the western coast of Libya.