Another boat carrying refugees has capsized while making the risky journey across the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe, leaving 63 asylum seekers missing.
The boat sunk off the coast of Libya, according to a spokesman for the North African country’s navy on Tuesday, who cited eyewitness accounts.
Navy spokesman General Ayoub Kacem said that 41 asylum seekers who had been wearing life jackets were rescued.
According to the survivors, there were 104 people on board the inflatable dinghy, which sank off Garaboulli, east of Tripoli.
A Libyan coastguard boat returned to Tripoli Monday with another 235 migrants — including 54 infants and 29 women — rescued in two other operations in the same area.
Spain to the rescue, once again
Meanwhile, a humanitarian boat carrying 59 asylum seekers was on Tuesday heading to Spain after Italy and Malta — both much closer to the place of rescue — refused to let it dock in their ports.
The boat, Open Arms, run by the Spanish Proactiva Open Arms charity, was offered a safe port by Barcelona’s mayor.
Spain had earlier allowed in another group of refugees also turned away by Italy and Malta.
Media reports say around 204 people have died in the past few days after trusting smugglers, who use unsafe vessels to get them to Europe.
On Friday alone, 103 people lost their lives when one such vessel sank.
Over a dozen people were rescued while the bodies of the three babies were recovered.
Libya is a main departure point for asylum seekers trying to cross the Mediterranean. Many of those who succeed to cross the sea have landed in Italy and Malta over the past four years.
Human traffickers have been taking advantage of the security gap in Libya that has existed since the toppling of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in October 2011.
According to UN figures, more than 1,000 people have drowned in the Mediterranean this year while making the perilous journey from Libya to Europe.
By Africafrique and agencies