90 refugees died in shipwreck off Libya coast
By Bimbo Ogunnaike with agency report
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has disclosed that at least 90 refugees have drowned off the coast of Libya after a smuggler’s boat capsized early, leaving three known survivors and 10 bodies washed up on shore.
Survivors told aid workers that most of the refugees on board were Pakistanis, who form a growing group heading to Italy from North Africa,
IOM spokeswoman Olivia Headon, confirmed the development during a press briefing in Tunis, Tunisian capital on Friday.
“They have given an estimate of 90 who drowned during the capsize, but we still have to verify the exact number of people who lost their lives during the tragedy,” she said.
Earlier security officials in the western Libyan town of Zurawa said two Libyans and one Pakistani had been rescued from the boat. It said 10 bodies had been recovered, moslyPakistani, but gave no further information.
Zurawa, located near Libya’s border with Tunisia, is a favored site for refugee boat departures.
Libya is the main gateway for refugees trying to cross to Europe by sea, though numbers have dropped sharply since July as Libyan factions and authorities, under pressure from Italy and the European Union (EU), have begun to block departures.
More than 600,000 people are believed to have made the journey from Libya to Italy over the past four years.