Libya Ship Sinking
Migrants sit in their boat during a rescue operation by the Italian navy ship Scirocco, in this file photograph taken about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Libya. Reuters/Files

Dozens of people are feared dead after a boat carrying about 200 African immigrants sank off the coast near the Libyan capital Tripoli. At least 20 bodies have been recovered by the authorities, and some of the passengers have been rescued alive. As many as 170 people are unaccounted for.

“We are looking for 170 African passengers on a wooden boat that has foundered off the Guarabouli area. A few miles off the coast, we found the remains of a wooden boat which had some 200 migrants on board,” Libya coast-guard official Abdellatif Mohammed Ibrahim told Agence France-Presse. The rescue personnel do not have enough resources to carry out emergency measures as they are struggling with a single patrol boat in the region.

Although the identities of the travelers are unclear, some are believed to be Eritreans and Somalis en route to Europe, most likely seeking asylum.

Libya has turned into a haven for people smugglers, who capitalize on the country’s political turmoil and the desperate Africans looking to escape from the perils of their respective nations.

In recent months, dozens of such asylum-seekers have been reported missing or presumed drowned as their poorly equipped boats capsize.