67 migrants are feared dead off Libya and the coastal town of Zuwara after more than 3,000 people attempted the crossing between Tuesday and Wednesday. The crew of the Swedish rescue vessel Poseidon discovered around 52 bodies in the hold of a wooden boat from which around 400 people were rescued some 30 miles north of Libya.
They were found close to the engine and are believed to have died from inhalation of engine fumes and asphyxia. Originally, rescuers counted 30 bodies but a spokesman for the Italian coastguard said the real death toll stands at 52.
In a separate incident, another 15 people are feared drowned after their boat capsized around five miles off the coastal town of Zuwara on Wednesday. A spokesman for the coastguard there said they had saved 20 people and recovered three bodies. The survivors, primarily from Nigeria and Ghana, told the coastguard they were traveling in a group of about 40 when their boat overturned in bad weather. They had only travelled some four hours after they left the shoreline.
The coastguard started the rescue at 4am and continued with the search into the afternoon but no more bodies were spotted. The tragedies came during an especially busy day in the waters outside Libya.The Italian coastguard said in a statement that around 3,000 people had been rescued in 10 different operations throughout Wednesday on the central Mediterranean route to Europe. That brings the total number of people rescued since Saturday to about 8,170 people.