Two migrants dead, 290 rescued off Libya coast

Two migrants dead, 290 rescued off Libya coast
Almost 300 people were rescued off the Libya coast while two women died as hundreds of African migrants tried to reach Europe.
2 min read
08 January, 2018
More than 3000 people died trying to reach Europe form Libya last year (Getty)

Around 290 migrants were rescued from two boats off the coast of Libya on Sunday, while two women died, in the latest attempt by African migrants to reach Europe.

The migrants were rescued off the coast of Garabulli, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Tripoli after leaving Libya on Saturday night on makeshift crafts, the Libyan navy said.

The migrants were then taken to the capital, naval officer Meftah al-Zlitni said.

He did not give further details on how the women had died, but an engine failure on the boat was blamed for stranding one of the crafts, after a waterlog damaged the motor.

"We stayed put from six o'clock in the morning" until the navy arrived, said Baba Koni, a Malian who was on board the boat. 

The second boat carrying around 150 migrants was about to sink when the patrol arrived.

Libya has become a staging post for mass migration from Africa since the fall of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Last year, 3,116 people died attempting the crossing, according to the International Organization for Migration.

That has continued into the new year, with at least 25 people drowning on Saturday off Libya's coast in the sinking of a boat carrying as many as 150 migrants, rescue groups said.

Arrivals in Italy dropped by a third on third last year following efforts by Rome to discourage migrants from attempting the crossing in the second half of the year.

The first six days of 2018 saw 400 people rescued and taken to Italy, compared to 729 over the same period in 2017, it said.