A boat carrying migrants sank off Libya’s Mediterranean coast, killing at least 37 people, a local official said on Sunday, the second such fatal accident within days.
“We had reports this morning that there are seven bodies of illegal migrants that sank off Khoms (east of Tripoli)…but we don’t have any details how many migrants were on board,” said Mohamad al-Misrati, a spokesman for the Red Crescent in Tripoli.
Fishermen later discovered 30 more bodies in the same area near Khoms, a town some 100 km (62 miles) east of the capital, he said. Volunteers of the Red Crescent were trying to recover the dead but were lacking boats.
No more details were immediately available.
On Thursday, a vessel packed with migrants hoping to make it from Libya to Italy sank in waters off the Libyan town of Zuwara, killing up to 200 people.
Lawless Libya has turned into a major transit route for migrants fleeing conflict and poverty by boat to Europe. Smugglers exploit the country’s chaos to bring Syrians into Libya via Egypt or nationals of sub-Saharan countries via Niger, Sudan and Chad.
The migrants pay thousands of dollars for the land and sea passage with smugglers often beating and torturing them to press for more money for the final leg of the trip by sea in unseaworthy vessels, rights groups say.
Libya has asked the European Union for help to train and equip its navy which was largely destroyed during the uprising in 2011 that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.