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Dozens feared drowned in migrant boat capsize

A boat carrying at least 250 African migrants to Europe capsized before leaving the coast near the Libyan capital on Monday, drowning dozens, a coast guard spokesman said.

Qassim Ayoub told The Associated Press that Libyan coast guards are retrieving dozens of bodies still floating 18 kilometres off the coast of Tripoli’s Tajoura district. He added that 36 African migrants, including three women — one of them pregnant — were rescued.

Libya has grown increasingly lawless since the 2011 overthrow of dictator Muammar Gadhafi, making it a migration hub for sub-Saharan Africans seeking a better life. Scores are killed every year on the dangerous journey to Europe.

Refugee numbers have since swelled as thousands of people flee conflicts in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East and Africa, boarding unsafe smugglers’ boats in Libya.

So far, nearly 110,000 people have been rescued since January, but at least 1,889 others have died making the perilous crossing, the UN refugee agency said.

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