35 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes off Libya

35 feared dead after migrant boat capsizes off Libya

A migrant boat capsized off the Libyan coast, leaving at least 35 people dead or presumed dead, according to the UN migration agency.

The shipwreck took place Friday off the western Libyan city of Sabratha, a major launching point for the mainly African migrants who are making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, the International Organization for Migration IOM said.

The bodies of six migrants were pulled out of the water by the International Monetary Organization, while 29 others were missing and presumed dead.

It was not immediately clear what caused the wooden boat to capsize.

Friday's tragedy was the second shipwreck off Libya in less than a week, with a total of 53 Europe-bound migrants dead or presumed dead, according to the IOM.

A wooden boat carrying 20 migrants capsized off the western town of Sorman on Tuesday.

Two migrants were rescued and at least 18 were pronounced dead, with six bodies retrieved, according to the UN migration agency.

Investigators commissioned by the UN's top human rights body found evidence of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya against migrants held in government-run prisons and at the hands of human traffickers.

More than 90 people in an overcrowded boat drowned in the Mediterranean Sea earlier this month, days after they left Libya, according to the Doctors Without Borders aid group.

Migrants try to reach European shores when they try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya.

The country has emerged as the main transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

Human traffickers have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggled in migrants across the country's long borders with six nations, because of the chaos in Libya.

Between January 1 and April 11 there were 476 deaths along the Central Mediterranean route, according to the IOM.

Rights groups say that many of those who have been intercepted and returned to Libya — including women and children — are held in government-run detention centres where they suffer from abuse, including torture, rape and extortion.