Hundreds of African migrants are still missing at sea, feared drowned, after their boats sank off the coast of Libya. Four vessels set out for Europe; three sank but the fourth was spotted by an Italian oil platform tug and towed back to Tripoli. Like the missing ships, it was hugely overcrowded.
Libya is a popular jumping-off point for Europe. There are thought to be more than a million migrants in the country, all hoping for a new life. Too often though their dreams turn to tragedy. Many of the boats used by the traffickers are old and unseaworthy. One of the missing ships is reported to have been carrying 365 passengers – it was licensed for only 75. Even so, despite the risks, many of the survivors will certainly try again. Their boat broke down near a Libyan oil platform. There has been no sign of the other three; they were too far from land for survivors to swim to shore. Refugee agencies say there is rarely any safety equipment on the boats, and it is feared they will never know exactly how many people may have perished. The accident marked the start of what is known as ‘the sailing season.’ Local reports say a huge number of boats have left Libya for Europe in the past few days.