A truck carrying undocumented asylum seekers in Libya has crashed, leaving at least 23 of them dead and around 100 others injured.
More than 300 asylum seekers, most of them Eritrean and Somali nationals, had been crammed onto the vehicle when it overturned near the town of Bani Walid, said a hospital spokesman Hatem al-Twijer on Wednesday.
Bani Walid, located south of Tripoli, is a hub for smugglers to bring refugees from Libya’s southern sub-Saharan neighbors to the coast, from where they are shipped by boat to Italy.
The country is currently the best-known route used by human traffickers to transfer asylum seekers to Europe by sea.
Hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers fleeing violence and persecution have made the perilous journey through Libya and across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Many have perished en route.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported earlier this month that an estimated 90 refugees had drowned off the coast of Libya.
In another incident weeks earlier, about 25 people drowned off Libya’s coast after an overcrowded dinghy ran into trouble.
In November last year, the United Nations (UN)’s migration agency said more than 33,000 refugees had died at sea while trying to reach European shores since 2000.
By Africafrique and agencies