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The New Arab

Libya: 100 migrants missing at sea

More than 3,000 people died trying to reach Europe from Libya last year (Getty)

Date of publication: 10 January, 2018

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The Libyan navy rescued at least 279 migrants off the Libyan coast, and fears there are nearly 100 missing at sea after one rubber boat ruptured.

Around 100 migrants are believed to be missing at sea, said Libya's navy, and nearly 279 others rescued off the Libyan coast.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the navy said that the migrants, mostly Africans, had embarked on the perilous trip across the Mediterranean in several vessels. One rubber boat was ruptured while at sea, and the missing are from that vessel.

The survivors, found on Tuesday, were taken to a naval base in the country's capital, Tripoli.

Around 290 migrants were rescued from two boats off the coast of Garabulli, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Tripoli after leaving Libya on makeshift crafts on Sunday, while two women died.

Libya has become a staging post for mass migration from Africa since the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Last year, 3,116 people died attempting the crossing, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

That has continued into the new year, with at least 25 people drowning on Saturday off Libya's coast in the sinking of a boat carrying as many as 150 migrants, rescue groups said.

Arrivals in Italy dropped by a third on last year following efforts by Rome to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing in the second half of the year.

The first six days of 2018 saw 400 people rescued and taken to Italy, compared to 729 over the same period in 2017, it said.

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