March 3, 2017 / 5:26 PM / 2 years ago

Libya naval forces rescue 115 illegal migrants, 25 missing

LONDON (Reuters) - Libyan naval forces have rescued 115 illegal migrants after their overloaded rubber boat sank off the coastline, and 25 more were still missing, a spokesman said on Friday.

The vessel went down around 3 a.m. on Friday, 3 miles (5 km) off Tajoura, just east of Tripoli, because it was overloaded and taking on water, Tripoli naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters.

“They are from different sub-Saharan countries, one from Bangladesh and six women,” he said. “Our coastguards carried out a search operation in that area off Tajoura in attempting to find the missing ones but no one was found.”

Last month, the bodies of 74 migrants were found washed up on a beach in western Libya after the engine of their vessel was stolen.

Libya is the main smuggling point for migrants hoping to reach Europe by sea, usually crossing in flimsy inflatable craft loaded with small amounts of fuel in an attempt to get them only as far as EU rescue vessels stationed in international waters.

Reporting by Hani Amara; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Alison Williams

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