Tuesday, March 31, 2009

350 African migrants feared drowned

More than 300 African migrants are feared drowned in the seas between Libya and Europe as illegal trafficking has increased in recent days.

The boats that carry Africans to Europe usually do not have any safety equipment. Smugglers try to cram as many people as they can into the boats to maximize their profits.

From this Reuters story that we found at WNED, Ali Shuaib tells us the findings of security officials fighting the traffcking.

At least 23 bodies of drowned migrants were recovered by Libyan coastguards near the wreckage of three rickety boats which sailed from the coastal village of Sidi Belal near Tripoli, Libya's most influential daily, Oea, said Tuesday, quoting security officials.

One of the boats was carrying 365 people although it was only supposed to hold 75, Libyan officials said. It was one of four migrant ships which sailed from Libya between Saturday and Sunday, apparently heading for Italy.

"After more than two days of searching, we have found no more bodies or survivors or the boat," a Libyan official said.

Among those missing were people from Somalia, Nigeria, Eritrea, Kurdish areas of Syria, Algeria, Morocco, the Palestinian territories and Tunisia, officials said.

A Libyan security official quoted a Tunisian survivor as saying: "I was on board the boat with 13 other Tunisians among the 365 migrants. I'm the only survivor. All my fellow Tunisians drowned."

A fourth ship crammed with more than 350 migrants broke down near Libya's offshore Buri oilfield but Libyan coastguards towed the vessel to the port of Tripoli and rescued all the migrants, including women and children.

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