Libyan navy rescues 272 migrants from stranded boats

REUTERS

REUTERS

Past year alone, 3,116 people died attempting the crossing, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), including 2,833 from Libya.

Humanitarian groups who spoke with survivors said 86 people were rescued from the boat hours after it took on water and started deflating.

The migrants "lost their lives in the shipwreck that occurred Saturday".

Two days ago off the coast of Gasr Garabulli a rubber dinghy sunk, leaving at least eight confirmed deaths and numerous missing.

"The rescued immigrants survived by clinging to the balloon of the boat until the rescue boat arrived from Sabratha city", said the Navy.

The migrants came from Mali, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Senegal and Nigeria, he added.

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"Among them there were many children who are believed to have drowned at sea", said Doctors Without Borders Sea on Twitter.

The boat was initially spotted by a plane from a European naval mission to combat trafficking on Saturday.

Wednesday's statement says the migrants, mostly Africans, had embarked on the perilous trip across the Mediterranean in several vessels.

There was however a sharp drop in arrivals in Italy during in the second half of 2017 following efforts by Rome to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing.

Such boats are regularly crammed with migrants by people smugglers operating from Libya and were never built to withstand crossing the Mediterranean Sea.

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