Tripoli: Libyan coast guards have recovered the bodies of five migrants and picked up 185 survivors off its western coast, a spokesman said on Saturday.
The migrants, who were rescued about 24 km off the town of Qarabulli, were trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in two boats, the Libyan navy said Saturday. Those who lost their lives were from Sudan, Nigeria, Chad and Egypt.
The bodies were recovered from an inflatable boat packed with migrants that got into trouble, the coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.
A day earlier, three children and nine women were among 94 migrants rescued on Friday when their inflatable dinghy sank 12 nautical miles from Garabulli, east of the capital Tripoli.
“The migrants are from different sub-Saharan countries including three children and nine women,” he said.
Two coast guard patrols carried out different operations on Friday, picking up 91 migrants in one group and 94 in the second, Qassem said.
A total of 900 migrants have been intercepted or rescued by the Libyan navy since Wednesday as departures pick up due to favorable weather.
Usually in such cases the migrants are taken to detention centers pending repatriation.
Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants fleeing wars and poverty and trying to reach Europe, although the number of crossings has sharply dropped since last July due to a more active coast guard presence with support from the EU.
Libya descended into chaos following the NATO-backed uprising that toppled Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with many armed groups and two administrations vying for power.
Most migrants try to head across the Mediterranean toward Italy, hoping they will be picked up by ships run by aid groups and taken there, although many drown before they are rescued.
Earlier this month, Italy’s anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, vowed to no longer let charity ships offload rescued migrants in Italy, leaving one ship stranded at sea for several days with more than 600 migrants until Spain offered them safe haven.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will try on Sunday to persuade other EU leaders to agree on a common policy on migrants, although her chances of winning support from all 28 member states are deemed slim.