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35 migrants feared drowned off Libya

Libyan coastguards, and local fishermen, help rescue illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Guarabouli, 60 kilometres (36 miles) east of the capital, on July 8, 2017. Thirty-five migrants, including seven children, were feared drowned after their inflatable craft sank off the Libyan coast, the coastguard said. Eighty-five migrants, including 18 women, were rescued with the help of fishermen who alerted the coastguard. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD TURKIA

Thirty-five migrants, including seven children, were feared drowned after their inflatable boat sank on Saturday off the Libyan coast, the coastguard said.

Eighty-five migrants, including 18 women, were rescued with the help of fishermen who alerted the coastguard, said Issa al-Zarrouk, a coastguard official in Garabulli, 60 kilometres (40 miles) east of Tripoli.

Navy spokesman Ayoub Kacem said the boat sank six nautical miles northwest of Garabulli, and 10 fishing boats took part in the rescue.

The rescued migrants were from countries including Nigeria, Senegal, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and Ghana, Kacem said.

Human traffickers have exploited years of chaos in Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed dictator Moamer Kadhafi to boost their lucrative but deadly trade.

Tens of thousands of migrants have resorted to paying smugglers to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to what they hope will be a better life in Europe.

Nearly 77,000 migrants have landed in Italy since January, up 15 percent on the same period in 2016.

Altogether, at least 2,247 people have died or are missing after trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year, the IOM says.

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