Middle East

Libya shipwreck toll rises to 111, dozens missing

Rescuers have retrieved from the sea the bodies of 111 migrants whose boat sank off the coast of Libya, the Red Crescent said on Saturday in a new toll.
A spokesman for the Libyan relief organization said dozens are still missing after Thursday's tragedy.
"So far 111 bodies have been retrieved from the sea while dozens of people are still missing," the spokesman Mohammad al-Misrati told AFP.
He said the boat carried 400 would-be migrants, and that 198 had been rescued.
On Friday Misrati said that 76 bodies had been retrieved after the boat sunk near the western Libyan port of Zuwara.
Red Crescent teams wearing protective white clothing and masks on Friday collected bodies that had washed ashore, placing them in orange plastic bags and carrying them to ambulances.
Libya, with a coastline of 1,770 kilometers (more than 1,000 miles), has for years been a stepping stone for Africans seeking a better life in Europe, with most heading for Italy.
Conflicts across the Middle East, especially in Syria, have also made Libya a transit country for those fleeing violence in the region.
People smugglers have taken advantage of the chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi to step up their lucrative business.
The Mediterranean crossing is treacherous, and about 2,500 people have died at sea trying to reach Europe this year alone.

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