Libya navy searching for migrants after boat capsize in Mediterranean

TRIPOLI -- The Libyan navy said on Wednesday that some 100 migrants are missing at sea and feared dead while the coast guard rescued at least 279 others off the coast of Libya.

The migrants, mostly Africans, had embarked on the perilous trip across the Mediterranean onboard several vessels and the survivors were found on Tuesday. Those missing were all from a single rubber boat that capsized while at sea. Its remnants were found off the western city of Khoms, the navy said.

The other migrants were found off the city of Zawiya, also in western Libya.

Rescue and search efforts went on for more than 12 hours despite the rough sea and limited resources, the navy said.  All the survivors, including 19 women and 17 children, were taken to a naval base in the capital, Tripoli, and were later handed over to Libya's anti-migration authority.

On Sunday, the Libyan navy said it rescued 272 migrants who were attempting to reach southern Europe.

The U.N. migration agency said that over 3,100 migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea in 2017.

Libya descended into chaos following the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. It has since become a frequently used route to Europe for those fleeing poverty and conflict.

The vast North African country is home to competing governments and parliaments, with real power held by an array of militias, many of which make money from trafficking and packing hundreds of desperate migrants in unseaworthy boats to make the dangerous vo....

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