8 migrants drown off Libya coast

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Tripoli, June 11 (IANS) Altogether eight migrants drowned and dozens are missing on Saturday off the Libyan coast while attempting to reach Europe, according to the Libyan coast guards.

“The eight bodies are among the 120 or 130 people who were on a rubber boat,” said Colonel Fathi al-Rayani, commander of the coast guard of Garabulli city, 60 km east of Tripoli, Xinhua reported.

The boat was spotted 8 km off the town of Garabulli, said al-Rayani, adding that the number of the dead migrants could exceed 100, as this type of boats transports up to 120 people.

Ayob Qassem, Libyan navy spokesman, said that the coast guards of Al-Zawya city, which is 45 km west of Tripoli, intercepted Friday five rubber and wooden boats carrying more than 570 illegal immigrants on their way to European shores.

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Qassem said the immigrants are African, Bangladeshi, and Moroccan nationals.

Libya is a preferred point of departure for migrants wishing to cross the Mediterranean towards Europe. Smugglers take advantage of the state of chaos and insecurity to sent thousands of migrants in rickety boats, many of whom drown on the way.

–IANS

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