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16 migrants found dead on Libya beach

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Migrants and refugees from Central Africa and Syria look on as they are on board of the Topaz Responder, a rescue ship run by Maltese NGO MOAS during its arrival at the Brindisi's harbour with on board 347 migrants and refugees on October 27, 2016 following a rescue operation at sea, off the Libyan coast. ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

Migrants and refugees from Central Africa and Syria look on as they are on board of the Topaz Responder, a rescue ship run by Maltese NGO MOAS during its arrival at the Brindisi’s harbour with on board 347 migrants and refugees on October 27, 2016 following a rescue operation at sea, off the Libyan coast.<br />ANDREAS SOLARO / AFP

The bodies of 16 migrants have been found on a beach near the western Libyan town of Zwara, the Libyan Red Crescent said on Sunday.

The migrants had been attempting to reach Europe, Khames el-Boussefi, a spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent, told AFP.

“We have not been able to verify their nationalities, but they are presumed drowned after their boat sank,” he said, adding that none of the migrants had identity documents.

“The remains were handed over to the authorities who will take care of their burial,” he said.

People smugglers have exploited the chaos gripping Libya since the 2011 uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi to traffic migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.

Many set off from the western coast in small, unsafe boats for the perilous journey to Italy, 300 kilometres (190 miles) to the north.

It is often impossible to identify the bodies of those who die during the attempt. Many are buried in numbered graves outside Libyan towns.

At least 3,800 people have died or disappeared in the Mediterranean since the start of the year, the highest toll ever, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR told AFP on Wednesday.

Almost 100 migrants went missing on Wednesday after their Europe-bound boat sank, while 29 were rescued, the Libyan navy said Thursday.

On the same day, the European Union said it had begun training the Libyan coastguard as part of efforts to curb the growing influx of irregular migrants from North Africa.


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