Libya: 183 bodies now recovered after capsize of boat in Zuwara

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SHAFAQNA - The bodies of 183 people who drowned attempting to reach Europe last month when a people-smuggling boat capsized have now washed up on the coast of Libya.

Shocking photographs of children’s bodies were posted on social media 10 days ago but aid agencies in the port city of Zuwara say scores more bodies have now been recovered.

Mark Micallef, executive editor of Migrant Report, a non-profit organisation documenting the crisis in the Mediterranean, said the police and the Libyan Red Cross (LRC) have now recovered 183 bodies.

“We recover bodies practically every week but the scale of this tragedy is unbearable,” an LRC volunteer told Migrant Report.

The coastguard used at least two helicopters in the recovery process. “The day after the incident we collected more than 60 bodies from less than half a kilometre of beach. So many people’s lives wasted,” the volunteer said.

The boat, carrying 400 people, sank off the Libyan port of Zuwara, 160km west of Tripoli.

Mohsan Ftis, liaison officer for Médecins Sans Frontières in Zuwara, said the Red Cross locally had said they had saved 110 people the night of the accident and there had been local demonstrations against people smuggling in the aftermath.

“What I saw that night, the bodies of just regular people floating out, made me angry, sad, scared for the first time. It made my stomach churn and still the images of this night come into my head, it is a big accident and a very sad moment.

“The people have protested and we don’t see this people smuggling in Zuwara, people are angry and this scares the smugglers. It helps that people are coming out,” said Ftis.

An estimated 2,500 people have perished in the Mediterranean trying to get to Europe this summer.

Last Thursday, Libya’s coastguards said they had rescued more than 100 people on an overloaded rubber dinghy bound for Europe about to sink off the coast of Tripoli on Thursday.

“We rescued 104 African migrants, including 14 women. Most of them were from Sierra Leone and Nigeria,” Lieut Mohamad Dandi of the Tripoli coastguard told AFP.

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