There have been many cases of drowning with the onset of rains. At least 16 wanderers trying to reach Europe got sunken in the Mediterranean Sea when their small dinghy overturned off the coast of Libya, the UN migration agency reported Friday, the latest shipwreck to underscore the deadly risks facing those who flee the war-afflicted North African country. Libyan fishermen recognized the sinking boat late Thursday, said the International Organisation for Migration, and survived to pull 22 people from the water, including those from Egypt, Bangladesh, Syria, Somalia and Ghana.
Three corpses were found floating in the water that included one Syrian man and woman, and at least 13 other migrants were missing and presumed drowned, a leading media house stated. The boat had set off from the town of Zliten, east of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, late on Wednesday. The Libyan Coast Guard said that it had ordered the rescue, and warned the death toll could rise further as search teams scoured the area for more victims.
“So many boats are leaving these days, but autumn is a very difficult season,” said Commodore Masoud Abdal Samad. “When it gets windy, it’s deadly. It changes in an instant.” In the years since the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, war-torn Libya has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants hoping to get to Europe from Africa and the Middle East. Those who survived Friday’s disaster were taken to the Tripoli port, where they received medical care for their burns, a common consequence of leaked engine fuel mixing with saltwater, said Safa Msehli, an IOM spokeswoman.