Another 900 migrants rescued by local guards off Libya coast
On Friday, Libya’s coast guard intercepted 906 migrants off the western city of Sabratha, a spokesman said. But for the interception by local authorities, a good number of the migrants were on the verge of drowning as one of the boats was seriously perforated and water was already flushing into the rubber contraption.
The migrants were on board several wooden and rubber boats, coast guard spokesman Ayoub Qassem said. One of the rubber boats was perforated and nearly submerged, and a wooden boat had its engine missing, he said.
The migrants were African, Asian and Arab, and included 98 women and 25 children, Qassem said.
Libya has been in turmoil for years and is the most common departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. More than 60,000 migrants have crossed the central Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy so far this year.
Smugglers pack the migrants onto ill-equipped boats that usually get picked up by European rescue vessels once they reach international waters.
However, some sink or become stranded when smugglers remove the engines for reuse, and some get turned back by the Libyan coast guard.
The choice of Libya was because of its closeness to Europe. The lure of many to get into Europe has also spurred a huge human trafficking trade across the sea.