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At Least 3 Migrants Dead Off Libya

At Least 3 Migrants Dead Off Libya

Saturday, 19 January, 2019 - 13:15
Migrants ride in a boat after they were rescued by Libyan coastguard off the coast of Gharaboli, east of Tripoli, Libya July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny
Asharq Al-Awsat
At least three migrants died and about 15 were missing off the Libyan coast, the Italian navy said Saturday, after staging a rescue operation in the Mediterranean, some 100 km north of Tripoli.

The navy intervened on Friday and a helicopter rescued three people suffering from hypothermia who were flown to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, Admiral Fabio Agostini said.

This was after Italian air force pilots "spotted a dinghy in distress carrying about 20 people," he told state TV channel RaiNews24 in an interview tweeted by the navy.

"Three corpses were seen floating in the water during the operation," he said, adding that the rescuers had been unable to locate the dinghy.

A Red Crescent spokesman meanwhile said 16 bodies had been found on the beaches of the Libyan city of Sirte between January 2 and 15.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 83 people have died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean.

It said the number of migrants and refugees landing on European shores had almost doubled in the first 16 days of this year to 4,216 against 2,365 over the same period in 2018.

"As long as European ports will remain open … sea-traffickers will continue to do business and kill people," Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a Facebook post late on Friday.

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