Cairo – The Libyan Navy on Wednesday said as many as 100 migrants have gone missing after their boat sank off the coast of Libya.
The Libyan coastguard rescued 17 people from the boat that sank off the town of al-Khoms east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, the navy said on its Facebook page.
The survivors clung to the wreckage of the vessel until they were saved.
“Unfortunately, there are a large number of missing people ranging from 90 to 100 illegal migrants from the boat,’’ the navy said in a statement.
According to the navy, the Libyan coastguard saved a total of 279 shipwrecked migrants in three incidents, including those from the al-Khoms boat.
Libya descended into chaos since the 2011 overthrow of long-time dictator Gaddafi in a NATO-supported armed revolt.
Lawlessness in the North African country has helped it become the main springboard for often deadly migrant journeys bound to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
NAN reports that the International Organisation for Migration estimated that 2,832 migrants died in 2017 trying to reach Italy from North Africa, down from 4,581 in 2016.
Some 119,310 people made it alive to Italy in 2017 against 181,436 in 2016.