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Middle East

Migrant boat carrying 100 capsizes off Libya coast

A body lies on the shore in the Tunisian city of Ben Guerdane on August 30, 2014, after a boatload of illegal migrants capsized in the sea near Libya's maritime border. AFP PHOTO / FETHI NASRI

TUNIS: A boat carrying more than 100 migrants capsized off the coast near the Libyan capital, a coast guard official said Sunday.

Abdel-Latif Mohammad said the coast guard found the damaged rubber boat off the shores of al-Qarbouli, 50 kilometers east of the coastal capital Tripoli.

The coast guard has not yet confirmed the number of deaths but estimated the boat carried at least 100 people.

Last week, at least 100 African migrants, including five children, drowned in the same area.

The new discovery came as Tunisian coastguards continued Sunday to look for bodies of migrants thought to be Syrians, after finding 42 shipwreck victims since Friday.

Local officials at Ben Guerdane in southeast Tunisia believe the bodies were from a sinking off the coast of Libya.

Rescuers “have found Syrian identity papers,” Tahar Souid, coordinator of the emergency center set up at Ben Guerdane said, in the first indication of the victims’ nationality.

Many of the bodies, some still with life jackets on, have washed up on the Tunisian shore.

However, operations were complicated Sunday by a strong wind from the southwest blowing the remaining bodies offshore and fisherman reported finding more bodies in the sea, he said.

The victims were found in an area that has seen many boatloads of illegal migrants capsize.

The director of Al-Ketf port, Fethi Abaab, said Saturday that women were among the cadavers.

A rescue operations official said the bodies were badly decomposed and added that he believed they were migrants who had been trying to make their way to Europe in search of a better life.

They were “probably” some of the people who went missing earlier this week when a boat capsized after leaving the Libyan port of Zwara, heading for Italy, the official said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 01, 2014, on page 9.

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Summary

A boat carrying more than 100 migrants capsized off the coast near the Libyan capital, a coast guard official said Sunday.

Last week, at least 100 African migrants, including five children, drowned in the same area.

The new discovery came as Tunisian coastguards continued Sunday to look for bodies of migrants thought to be Syrians, after finding 42 shipwreck victims since Friday.

A rescue operations official said the bodies were badly decomposed and added that he believed they were migrants who had been trying to make their way to Europe in search of a better life.

They were "probably" some of the people who went missing earlier this week when a boat capsized after leaving the Libyan port of Zwara, heading for Italy, the official said.


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