TRIPOLI, Libya (AFP) – Libya’s coastguard rescued 89 illegal immigrants off the western port of Zawiya after their boat broke down and five of them died, a naval official told Lana news agency on Saturday.
A fisherman told authorities a boat carrying illegal immigrants had been adrift for five days, and a coastguard patrol was sent to rescue them, naval spokesman Colonel Ayub Omar Gacem said.
The immigrants, who were from Sub-Saharan Africa, told their rescuers that five people had died while their boat was adrift, and that they had dumped their bodies at sea.
“Some of the immigrants were taken to hospital when they were brought ashore, while others received medical attention on the spot,” Gacem said.
He added that this was the second such incident in two weeks, as Libya’s coastguard saved another 34 people, including women and children, off the west coast.
For many years Libya has been a transit point for immigrants, mostly from Sub-Saharan Africa, looking to travel on to Europe.
On Friday, Italian coastguards said they had rescued 213 immigrants clinging to two motor-boats.
This brought to 650 the number of illegal immigrants they have rescued so far this year off the shores of the tiny island of Lampedusa, the closest Italian island to Africa.