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Europe-bound migrant boat capsizes off Libya leaving eight dead and 58 missing

Associated Press Reporter

A boat carrying Europe-bound migrants has capsized off Libya, killing at least eight people, while 58 others were still missing, the country's Red Crescent said.

Tawfik al-Shukri, spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent, said the shipwreck took place on Tuesday off the Mediterranean town of Garabulli, around 60 kilometres (37 miles) east of the capital city Tripoli.

The boat was carrying at least 150 people, of whom 84 survived and were taken to government-run migrant detention centres, he said.

Mr Al-Shukri said the dead who were recovered were all men. He shared images which showed workers in Red Crescent uniforms packing black body bags with the Mediterranean Sea in the background.

Libya has, in recent years, emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to make it to Europe.

The oil-rich country was plunged into chaos following a Nato-backed uprising that toppled and killed long-time autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Tuesday's shipwreck was the latest sea tragedy in the central Mediterranean, a key route for migrants.

In 2023, at least 17 migrants were reported dead and 18 others missing off Libya, according to the UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

More than 1,100 migrants were intercepted and returned to Libya this year, the IOM said.

Last year, at least 529 migrants were reported dead and 848 others missing off Libya, while more than 24,680 were intercepted and returned to the country, according to the IOM.

Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across the country's lengthy borders shared with six nations.

The migrants are then packed into ill-equipped vessels, including rubber boats, and set off on risky sea voyages.

Those who are intercepted and returned to Libya are held in government-run detention centres rife with abuses, including forced labour, beatings, rape and torture – practices that amount to crimes against humanity, according to UN-commissioned investigators.

The abuse often accompanies efforts to extort money from families before migrants are allowed to leave Libya on traffickers' boats.

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