Boat capsizes off the coast of Libya, at least 24 dead

Death toll expected to continue rising as 54 migrants remain missing

File photo
File photo

At least 24 migrants have died attempting to reach Europe after a boat carrying 130 capsized off the coast of Libya.

Libyan officials said the bodies were found after the bottom of the small boat collapsed, causing it to capsize at al-Qarbouli, 30 miles east of Tripoli. Fifty-two people, mostly Africans, were immediately rescued, but at least 54 remain missing.

There were fears the death toll could be higher still after a separate government statement said a further 40 bodies had washed ashore since the capsizing.

Libya has become a major transit point for tens of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe in rickety, crowded boats each year. Cities along the country’s 1,000-mile, largely unpatrolled Mediterranean coastline have become collection points where Africans mass, seeking boats to take them the roughly 200 miles to Malta or Lampedusa.

Interior Minister Saleh Mazek said on Saturday that Libya could not cope with the amount of migrants arriving from sub-Saharan Africa.

He warned the EU that if it did not "shoulder its responsibility", then Libya may help the migrants to reach Europe.

The Libyan government has since issued a statement saying that it would continue to co-operate with all partners in order to stop illegal immigration.

More in World