AP – A flimsy rubber boat collapsed and sank in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya’s coast, leaving at least 30 people including women and children missing and feared dead, an international charity said on Wednesday.
Officials said meanwhile they found the bodies of 20 migrants who they said died of thirst in the desert close to the border with Chad. The deaths marked the latest tragedies involving migrants who use Libya as a transit point on a perilous journey to Europe.
The vessel sank in the deadly central Mediterranean Sea route, said Doctors Without Borders, also known by its abbreviation MSF for the French name of the group.
A rescue ship operated by MSF reached the boat, and managed to rescue dozens of other migrants including some women, the charity said. A pregnant woman died on board the rescue ship, Geo Barents. The missing migrants include five women and eight children, MSF said.
“We have seen so many people drowning – men, women and children – and we will never forget the day we had yesterday,” a 17-year-old boy from Cameroon said in a testimony posted by MSF on Twitter. “We tried to save them but we couldn’t save them all,”
Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. The oil-rich country plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.