As many as 15 migrants die in boat off Libya - survivor

Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.

FILE: A Spanish coast guard boat with migrants onboard arrives at Malaga's harbour on 23 September 2018, after an inflatable boat carrying 117 immigrants, 34 of them women and 4 children, was rescued by the Spanish coast guard off the Spanish coast. Picture: AFP

MISRATA - As many as 15 migrants have died in a boat off the Libyan coast, an Egyptian survivor told Reuters on Tuesday.

“We were 25 migrants on a boat... We set off from (the western Libyan town of) Sabratah and we were at sea for 12 days without food and water,” he said, speaking in the western city of Misrata. “15 have died.”

Libya’s western coast is the main departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea, though the number of crossings has dropped sharply since last July.

Since last summer, smuggling networks inside Libya have been disrupted under Italian pressure and Libya’s EU-backed coastguard has stepped up interceptions, returning more than 7,000 migrants to Libya so far in 2018.

Since January, some 10,760 migrants have crossed from Libya to Italy, more than 80% less than during the same period last year, according to statistics from Italy’s interior ministry.