Between 90 and 100 refugees are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their rubber dinghy sank off the coast of Libya.
The inflatable boat was carrying more than 100 people when it went down off the eastern city of Khoms on Tuesday, said Ayub Qasim, a spokesman for Libya’s coastguard.
Rescuers found just 17 survivors clinging to the boat’s wreckage, Qasim said.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed, reporting from Libya’s capital, Tripoli, said the country’s coastguard also rescued more than 279 refugees from two boats off the western city of Zawiya.
“The survivors included 19 women and 17 children. Most of those on the boats came from African countries,” he said.
The UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) describes the Mediterranean Sea as the world’s deadliest border. Last year, 3,116 people died in its waters while trying to cross from North Africa to Europe by sea, the agency said.
Libya, which was plunged into chaos since the 2011 removal of Muammar Gaddafi, has become the most common point of departure for refugees traveling by sea to Europe.
Italy, their main point of entry, is providing naval support to the Libyan coastguard to stem the flow of people.
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