The Sunday Mail (Queensland)



TRIPOLI: RIPOLI: Libyan author­i­ties have been col­lect­ing the bod­ies of mi­grants who drowned off the coastal city of Zuwara, with some 200 feared dead.

The event is the latest dis­as­ter in­volv­ing des­per­ate peo­ple try­ing to reach Europe.

A pho­tog­ra­pher at the scene saw work­ers re­mov­ing bod­ies from the wa­ter, and pulling a flooded boat into the har­bour that con­tained vic­tims float­ing face down.

At least one dead man was wear­ing a life vest. They were put into body bags and lined up on the wa­ter­front.

Hus­sein Asheini, head of Libya’s Red Cres­cent in Zuwara, said at least 105 were killed, some while trapped in­side the boat af­ter it cap­sized.

Fish­er­men and the coast guard found the wa­ter­logged ves­sel at sea and towed it back to Zuwara, where they had to break the ship’s deck to reach peo­pleeo­ple who had been trapped in­side the hull.

“The boat sank out sea, and a coast guard team is still div­ing in and check­ing in­side to see if there’s any­one else,” Mr Asheini said. There were con­flict­ing ca­su­alty fig­ures and the Red Cres­cent was still count­ing the bod­ies and the sur­vivors, he added.

“So far 111 bod­ies have been re­trieved from the sea while dozens of peo­ple are still miss­ing,” spokesman Mo­ham­mad d al-Mis­ratil Mis­rati said said, adding 198 had been res­cued.

Red Cres­cent teams wear­ing pro­tec­tive cloth­ing and masks on Fri­day col­lected bod­ies that washed ashore, plac­ing them in or­ange plas­tic bags and car­ry­ing them to am­bu­lances.

The United Na­tions refugee agency said that up to 200 peo­ple were miss­ing and feared dead af­ter the Libyan coast guard car­ried out res- cue oper­a­tions on Thurs­day for two boats car­ry­ing an es­ti­mated 500 mi­grants.

Oth­man Bel­beisi, of the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion for Libya, said: “We are still wait­ing for more de­tails, but we have learned there were 400 peo­ple on one of two boats.”

He said 100 were res­cued, in­clud­ing nine women and two girls.

In a sep­a­rate res­cue op­er­a­tion by the Libyan coast guard on Wed­nes­day, UNHCR said 51 peo­ple were found dead of suf­fo­ca­tion in the hold of a boat, with sur­vivors re­count­ing how smug­glers beat them with sticks to keep them un­der the deck.

It said one sur­vivor de­scribed how smug­glers forced pas­sen­gers into the packed hold and were de­mand­ing money to al­low them to come up to breathe fresh air.

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