Hundreds dead after two boats capsize off Libya

About 2,400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, the UN says.

The Swedish coast guard vessel Poseidon assisting in the rescue earlier this week
The Swedish coast guard vessel Poseidon assisting in the rescue earlier this week

Hundreds of people are feared dead after two boats carrying up to 500 persons capsized off the Libyan city of Zuwara, residents and officials say.

The first boat, which signalled for help early on Thursday, had nearly 50 people on board. The second overcrowded boat, which sank much later, had about 400 passengers.

Officials said about 201 people had been rescued by the Libyan coast guard but many people appeared trapped in the hold when the boat capsized.

A detention facility for illegal migrants in Sabratha, west of Tripoli, received 147 people, an official told Reuters.

About 2,400 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, the UN says.

More than 100,000 others have landed in Italy, whilst another 160,000 have crossed to Greece.

On Wednesday, the bodies of at least 51 people were found in the hold of a stricken ship off Libya's coast.

They were picked up by a Swedish coastguard ship that also rescued more than 400 survivors - among at least 3,000 asylum seekers saved that day.

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