Editor’s note: AFRAS supports volunteer maritime rescue services trying to prevent such tragedies. We raise and donate funds, and help US taxpayers make tax-deductible donations, to support such efforts.
NBCnews.com by >DON MELVIN
February 21, 2017
The sea continued to claim the lives of migrants desperate for better lives, with 74 bodies washing ashore in Libya.
Mohammed al-Misrati, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the human remains would be taken to a cemetery for unidentified people in Tripoli.
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies posted photographs on its Twitter account of dozens of corpses in body bags, lined up along the shore.
Migrant deaths have risen to record levels on the Libya-to-Italy smuggling route across the Mediterranean Sea. They generally attempt the crossing in flimsy inflatable craft loaded with small amounts of fuel which are intended to get them only as far as European rescue vessels stationed in international waters.
Libyan coast guard spokesman Ayoub Gassim said more than 500 migrants were rescued at sea on Friday and Saturday. The migrants’ boats were 5-7 miles from the coast of Libya.
Gassim said the coast guard is seeing the smugglers use larger rubber boats in order to pile more migrants into the weak vessels — some taking on as many as 180 people.
“This is going to be even more disastrous to the migrants,” Gassim added.
Last year a record 181,000 migrants crossed between Libya and Italy. More than 4,500 are known to have died.