ATHENS, Greece : The Latest on incidents of migrant boats sinking in the Mediterranean Sea (all times local):
Libya’s navy spokesman says that more than 100 bodies of migrants have been retrieved from the Mediterranean after a smuggling boat capsized off Libya’s shores.
Col. Ayoub Gassim tells The Associated Press that at least 104 bodies have been pulled out of the waters near the western city of Zwara but that the expected death toll is likely to be higher, since such boats usually carry up to 125 people. He said the Libyan coast guards found the empty boat on Thursday and that it’s possible the boat capsized a day earlier on Wednesday.
Speaking via the telephone, he blamed Europe for “doing nothing but counting bodies” to stop the massive illegal migration from Libya.
The discovery of the bodies off Zwara is the latest in a string of tragedies that have already claimed more than 1,000 lives the last 10 days as desperate migrants embark on treacherous sea journeys seeking a better life in Europe.
Four bodies were recovered and 340 people rescued Friday from a sinking migrant boat carrying a “significant number” of people in the Mediterranean Sea south of the Greek island of Crete, authorities said.
The coast guard said the roughly 25-meter (82-foot) vessel, which resembled a large fishing boat, had been carrying an undetermined number of people when it was located Friday half-sunk about 75 nautical miles south of Crete in international waters, and within Egypt’s search and rescue area of operation.
Greece was sending two patrol vessels, a military airplane and three helicopters, while five passing ships were participating in the rescue operation and one more was on its way. The coast guard said the operation was continuing to locate any potentially missing passengers from the migrant boat.
It was not immediately clear where the boat’s passengers were from, or where the vessel had set off from or was heading to.