90 Migrants, mostly Pakistanis feared dead after boat capsizes off Libya


Geneva (AFP): 90 Migrants are feared drowned after a boat capsized off the Libyan coast, says the UN’s migration agency.

Survivors told aid workers that most of the migrants on board were Pakistanis, who form a growing group heading to Italy from North Africa, IOM spokeswoman Olivia Headon said.

“They have given an estimate of 90 people who drowned during the capsize, but we still need to verify the exact number of people who lost their lives during the tragedy,” Headon, speaking from Tunis, told a Geneva news briefing.

“What has been reported to us is that it’s mostly Pakistanis who were on board the boat, but we still need to verify the nationalities and how many from what country,” she said.

Ten bodies have washed up on Libyan shores, two of them known to be Libyans and eight Pakistanis, she said.

“I believe the Libyan coastguard is looking for other survivors off the coast,” Headon added.

Another IOM spokesman, Leonard Doyle, told Reuters that the boat was believed to have left shore on Thursday before capsizing early on Friday morning.

The migration corridor remains highly precarious. An estimated 246 migrants died in the month of January in Mediterranean crossings, while 23 deaths were recorded in December.

IOM said Friday that more than 6,600 migrants and refugees had already entered Europe by sea since the beginning of the year, with central Mediterranean route crossings to Italy accounting for nearly 65 percent of the entries.

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