The Libyan Coast Guard discovered bodies of five illegal migrants and saved 65 others during a rescue operation in the Mediterranean after a ship was reported to be sinking, a spokesperson for the Navy affiliated with the Government of National Accord (GNA) stated.
According to Ayoub Kacem, the rescue operation was launched after the coast guard received a message that a boat with illegal migrants aboard crashed some 14 km (8.6 miles) off the Libyan coast and needed help. Rescuers managed to save a total of 65 migrants while five others - three men, a woman and a child - were found dead, he added.
Earlier UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley stated that no less than 40 people are feared to have drowned or be missing following a ship sinking near the coast of Libya.
"Terrible news coming in of potentially large loss of life in a shipwreck off the coast of Libya", Yaxley said in a tweet.
Boats overloaded with illegal migrants trying to reach Europe regularly capsize off Libya. Reuters reported that more than 100 people died last week, and a boat with about 250 overturned in the water last month.
— Charlie Yaxley (@yaxle) August 27, 2019
The Libyan Coast Guard has been rescuing illegals trying to cross to Europe almost on a daily basis for years, especially since the onset of the 2015 migration crisis.
Libya is one of the main transit countries for migrants. According to UN figures, the huge majority of migrants, about 90 percent, who cross the Mediterranean to Europe leave from the North African state. The civil war in Libya, as well as the unstable situation in the region, has brought the humanitarian situation in the country to a critical state.