Tripoli, Jul 26 (UNI) At least 150 people are feared dead as two boats carrying around 300 people sank off the coast of Libya on Thursday.
“The sinking took place off the coast of the city of Khoms,” some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Tripoli, Safa Msehli, spokesperson for the International Organisation of Migration in Libya said.
United Nations chief Antonio Guterres also expressed his concern and said that he is horrified by the incident.
“I am horrified by reports that about 150 people died in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya. We need safe, legal routes for migrants and refugees. Every migrant searching for a better life deserves safety and dignity.” Mr Guterres said in a tweet.
Ayoub Qasim, a spokesman for Libya’s coastguard, told a news agency that out of 300 people that sank, 134 have been rescued.
However, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a Twitter post on Thursday that more than 150 people were feared drowned while 145 were rescued and returned to Libya after the incident.
United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Charlie Yaxley said the survivors were picked up by local fishermen and then taken back to shore by the Libyan coastguard.
UN high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi has called on European nations to resume rescue missions in the Mediterranean, halted after a European Union decision, and appealed for an end to migrant detentions in Libya. He also tweeted that it was “the worst Mediterranean tragedy of this year”.
The Guardian reported that Crossings to Europe usually peak in summer when the seas are calmer. The International Organization for Migration has recorded 37,555 people entering Europe by sea and a further 8,007 by land so far in 2019.